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Grand Jury Report on Kermit Gosnell: “standard procedure” to “slit the necks of babies that moved or breathed”

by | Apr 3, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

The most important point coming out of this excerpt from the 261-page Grand Jury report is that the now famous “Baby Boy A,” who was viable and very well developed when he was aborted alive and then had his spinal cord slit, was by no means the only baby of such maturity and size and age. One employee testified that she saw abortionist Kermit Gosnell slit the spinal cords of “hundreds” of babies who had been “expelled.”

Page1re-216x300Other babies killed by Gosnell and his staff

Baby Boy A was among the more memorable large babies that Gosnell killed, perhaps because of the photographs, or because his teenage mother almost died too. He was not, however, the only one. Ashley Baldwin remembered Gosnell severing the neck of a baby that cried after being born. The baby had “precipitated” [deliver the premature baby] when the doctor was not in the clinic. Lynda Williams placed the baby in a basin on the counter where the instruments were washed and called the doctor to come.

Ashley heard the infant cry. She saw the baby move while it was on the counter. She estimated the infant was at least 12 inches long. When Gosnell arrived at the clinic, she recalled, “he snipped the neck, and said there is nothing to worry about, and he suctioned it.”

If Gosnell was absent, his employees would kill viable babies. Ashley Baldwin saw Steve Massof slit the necks of babies that moved or breathed “five or ten” times. Massof, repeating what he had been taught by Gosnell, told her that that it was standard procedure to cut the spine in all cases. Ashley testified:

Q. These larger babies, when Dr. Steve was there, did he ever – was he ever there when any of the larger babies precipitated?

A. Yes

Q. Babies that would move?

A. Yes.

Q. So, Dr. Steve – what would Dr. Steve do with babies that moved?

A. The same thing.

Q. The same thing. And how many time did you see Dr. Steve?

A. A lot. He told me that – don’t worry about it. They are not living. It is just a reaction.

Kareema Cross testified that, between 2005 and 2008, she saw Steve Massof sever the spinal cords of at least ten babies who were breathing and about five that were moving. When Massof left the clinic in 2008, Lynda Williams took over the job of cutting baby’s necks when Gosnell was not there. Cross saw Williams slit the neck of a baby (“Baby C”) who had been moving and breathing for approximately twenty minutes. Gosnell had delivered the baby and put it on a counter while he suctioned the placenta from the mother.

Williams called Cross over to look at the baby because it was breathing and moving its arms when Williams pulled on them. After playing with the baby, Williams slit its neck. When asked why Williams had killed the baby, Cross answered:

Because the baby, I guess, because the baby was moving and breathing. And she see Dr. Gosnell do it so many times, I guess she felt, you know, she can do it. It’s okay.

Adrienne Moton also killed at least one baby by cutting its spinal cord. Cross testified that a woman had delivered a large baby into the toilet before Gosnell arrived at work for the night. Cross said that the baby was moving and looked like it was swimming. Moton reached into the toilet, got the baby out and cut its neck. Cross said the baby was between 10 and 15 inches long and had a head the size of a “big pancake.” Gosnell later measured one of the baby’s feet and said that it was 24.5 weeks.

Gosnell’s illegal and unorthodox practices resulted in the birth and then killing of many viable, live babies.

Killing really had to be part of Gosnell’s plan. His method for performing late term abortions was to induce labor and delivery of intact fetuses, and he specialized in patients who were well beyond 24 weeks. Thus, the birth of live, viable babies was a natural and predictable consequence. The subsequent slitting of spinal cords, without any consideration for the babies’ viability, was an integral part of what Gosnell’s employees called his “standard procedure.”

Steve Massof described this “standard procedure.” It required the clinic’s unequipped staff to manage a clinic full of sedated patients who were thrown into full labor, and then to “deal” with whatever precipitated, including live babies – all while the doctor was at home, or jogging, or working at a clinic in Wilmington. In particular, Massof described what Gosnell expected him to do when babies precipitated in the afternoon and evening before the doctor arrived:

A: As I mentioned earlier, Dr. Gosnell would dilate the cervix to make room for passage of the products. And with the Cytotec, softening the cervix, the outlet of the uterus, well, mother nature would take its course. Every woman is different.

Q: What would happen?

A: Well, the fetus would precipitate.

Q: What do you mean?

A: Oh, come right out, right out. Just you know, I would be called, somebody would call me and at that point what I would have to do is, I’d have to go and tend to that patient.

Q: How would you do that? What would you do?

A: As – well, my first – my first reaction would be is at that point it depended sometimes it happened in the waiting room, sometimes it happened in the bathroom because, you know, a woman would be pushing in the bathroom. Sometimes, you know, it happened everywhere in the clinic. So what I would do is, I’d make sure that when – if the fetus precipitated, the cord was cut. Also, a standard procedure, the cervical spine was cut, as well as make sure that there wasn’t bleeding or, in other words, the placenta came down and that’s the way – we insured less blood would be lost.

Q: How often did this happen?

A: More times than I really care to remember. I would have to say every week it would happen to at least 50 percent of the patients.

Q: Fifty percent of the time?

A: Yeah, easy, easy. That – you know, and that is how, you know, and that’s what would happen.

Q: You said it was standard procedure to cut the – first to cut the umbilical cord?

A: Yes.

Q: That’s from the mother or how is that attached?

A: Well that is from the mother to the fetus.

Q: And where would it be? Would it still be – the placenta would still be in the mother’s uterus?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay.

A: Yes. And so I would cut the attachment and you know, then the cervical portion of the spine at that point. Those were the larger patients.

Q: So you said that was standard procedure. What do you mean when you say standard procedure?

A: Well, that’s – that was his standard procedure.

Q: When you say his, do you mean Gosnell?

A: Yes.

Q: Did he show you how to do that?

A: Yes, he did.

Q: When did he show you how to do that?

A: He showed me how to do that maybe 2004, sometime within a year I started working there, that is what he did during his [second-trimester] procedures.

Tina Baldwin corroborated that this was Gosnell’s standard procedure. She explained that after a fetus was expelled, Gosnell “used to go ahead and do the suction in the back of the neck.” She saw this “hundreds” of times. Gosnell told her that this was “part of the demise.”

Gosnell’s technique of aborting pregnancies by inducing labor and delivery, while unnecessarily painful for the women, did not itself constitute a crime. What made his  procedure criminal was that he routinely performed these abortions past the 24-week  limit prescribed by law. Not only was this a crime in itself, it also meant that he was regularly delivering babies who had a reasonable chance of survival.

Categories: Gosnell