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American Studies/History/Culture/Folklore

Kermit Gosnell Guilty

Abortion doctor guilty of killing 3 babies said to be born alive!

Associated Press, May 13, 2013, LATimes

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PHILADELPHIA  — A Philadelphia abortion doctor was found guilty Monday of first-degree murder and could face execution in the deaths of three babies who authorities say were delivered alive and then killed with scissors at his grimy clinic, in a case that became a flashpoint in the nation’s debate over abortion.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the drug-overdose death of a patient who had undergone an abortion. He was cleared in the death of a fourth baby, who prosecutors say let out a soft whimper before he snipped its neck.

Gosnell appeared hopeful before the verdict was read and calm afterward; jurors and lawyers on both sides were more emotional.

The jury will return May 21 to hear evidence on whether Gosnell should get the death penalty.

Former clinic employees testified that Gosnell routinely performed illegal late-term abortions past Pennsylvania’s 24-week limit, that he delivered babies who were still moving, whimpering or breathing, and that he and his assistants “snipped” the newborns’ spines, as he referred to it.

“Are you human?” prosecutor Ed Cameron snarled during closing arguments as Gosnell sat calmly at the defense table. “To med these women up and stick knives in the backs of babies?”

The grisly details came out more than two years ago during an investigation of prescription drug trafficking at Gosnell’s clinic in an impoverished section of West Philadelphia.

Authorities said the clinic was a foul-smelling “house of horrors” with bags and bottles of stored fetuses, including jars of severed feet, along with bloodstained furniture, dirty medical instruments, and cats roaming the premises.

Pennsylvania authorities had failed to conduct routine inspections of all of its abortion clinics for 15 years by the time Gosnell’s facility was raided and closed down. In the scandal’s aftermath, two top state health department officials were fired, and Pennsylvania imposed tougher rules for clinics.

“We see this as triumph of justice,” said Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, a group that has taken a lead role in efforts to enact anti-abortion laws in state legislatures.

Four former clinic employees have pleaded guilty to murder and four more to other charges. They include Gosnell’s wife, Pearl, a cosmetologist who helped perform abortions.

Both sides of the abortion divide seized on the case. Abortion foes said it exposed the true nature of abortion in all its disturbing detail. Abortion rights activists warned that Gosnell’s rogue practice foreshadows what poor and desperate young women could face if abortion is driven underground with more restrictive laws.

Midway through the six-week trial, anti-abortion activists accused the mainstream media of ignoring the case because it reflected badly on the abortion rights cause. Major news organizations denied the allegation, though a number promptly sent reporters to cover the trial.

After prosecutors rested their case, Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart threw out for lack of evidence three of seven murder counts involving aborted fetuses. That left the jury to weigh charges involving fetuses identified as Baby A, Baby C, Baby D and Baby E.

Prosecution experts said one was nearly 30 weeks along when it was aborted, and it was so big that Gosnell allegedly joked it could “walk to the bus.” A second fetus was said to be alive for some 20 minutes before a clinic worker snipped its neck. A third was born in a toilet and was moving before another clinic employee grabbed it and severed its spinal cord, according to testimony.

Baby E let out a soft whimper before Gosnell cut its neck, prosecutors alleged. Gosnell was acquitted in that baby’s death, the only one of the four in which no eyewitness account was given during the trial.

Gosnell’s attorney, Jack McMahon, argued that none of the fetuses was born alive and that any movements were posthumous twitching or spasms.

He also contended that the 2009 death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar of Woodbridge, Va., a Bhutanese immigrant who had been given repeated doses of Demerol and other powerful drugs to sedate her and induce labor, was caused by unforeseen complications.

Gosnell was also convicted of infanticide, racketeering and more than 200 counts of violating Pennsylvania’s abortion laws by performing third-term abortions or failing to counsel women 24 hours in advance.

Gosnell did not testify, and his lawyer called no witnesses in his defense. But McMahon argued that the doctor provided desperate young woman with “a solution to their problems,” and he branded prosecutors “elitist” and “racist” for pursuing his client, who is black and whose patients were mostly poor minorities.

“We know why he was targeted,” McMahon said.

Prosecutors described Gosnell’s employees as nearly as desperate as the patients. Some had little or no medical training, and at least one was a teenager still in high school. One woman needed the work to support her children after her husband’s murder.

Stephen Massof, an unlicensed medical school graduate who could not find a residency, told jurors that Gosnell taught him how to snip babies’ spines, something he then did at least 100 times at the clinic.

“I felt like a fireman in hell,” Massof testified. “I couldn’t put out all the fires.”

Gosnell still faces federal drug charges. Authorities said that he ranked third in the state for OxyContin prescriptions and that he left blank prescription pads at his office and let staff members make them out to cash-paying patients.

He performed thousands of abortions over a 30-year career. Authorities said the medical practice alone netted him about $1.8 million a year, much of it in cash. Authorities found $250,000 hidden in a bedroom when they searched his house. Gosnell also owned a beach home and several rental properties.

“He created an assembly line with no regard for these women whatsoever,” Cameron said. “And he made money doing that.”

Abortion Doctor Is Found Guilty of 3 Counts of Murder!
JON HURDLE, NYTimes, Published: May 13, 2013

PHILADELPHIA — Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a West Philadelphia doctor known for performing late-term abortions, was found guilty on Monday on three of four counts of first-degree murder.

The verdict came after a five-week trial in which the prosecution and the defense battled over whether the fetuses Dr. Gosnell was charged with killing were alive when they were removed from their mothers.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty when the trial moves into the sentencing phase on May 21.

Dr. Gosnell, 72, wearing a dark suit, showed no emotion as the jury foreman read the verdicts on the 10th day of deliberations. Before the foreman spoke, Dr. Gosnell smiled at his lawyer, Jack J. McMahon, and shook his hand.

Security in the courtroom was very tight, with 10 additional sheriff’s deputies in the room to keep order.

Dr. Gosnell was acquitted of one first-degree murder charge involving an aborted fetus. He was also acquitted of third-degree murder in the death of a 41-year-old patient but was found guilty of a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter in that case.

The gruesome nature of the case and the squalid conditions in Dr. Gosnell’s clinic had fueled arguments on both sides of the abortion debate. Anti-abortion campaigners used the case to reinforce their argument that the practice is immoral, while abortion rights advocates warned that it underlined the need to ensure the availability of properly regulated abortions.

Some activists accused the national news media of providing scant coverage of the trial to help protect the case for abortion rights. The critics included the Roman Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput. The 29 reporters present in the courtroom for the verdict were warned by a court official that no electronic communication would be allowed while the verdict was being read.

Prosecutors had argued that Dr. Gosnell murdered seven late-term infants who would have survived if he or his assistants had not given them a drug designed to cause “fetal demise” and then plunged scissors into their necks to ensure that they were dead. But the prosecution suffered a setback last month when Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart of the Court of Common Pleas threw out three of the seven first-degree murder charges without giving a reason.

Clinic workers who appeared as witnesses for the prosecution said some of the fetuses appeared to move or make noises. One, known as Baby D, was delivered into a toilet and appeared to make swimming motions before one of Dr. Gosnell’s assistants cut its neck, according to a worker cited during closing arguments by Edward Cameron, an assistant district attorney.

Mr. Cameron and another assistant district attorney, Joanne Pescatore, also told the jury, which was composed of eight women and four men, that Dr. Gosnell kept the severed feet of aborted fetuses in dozens of jars around his clinic, the Women’s Medical Society in West Philadelphia.

According to a January 2011 grand jury report, Dr. Gosnell’s patients were covered with bloodstained blankets, treated with unsterilized instruments and surrounded by cats that were allowed to defecate in the building.

To bolster their argument that Dr. Gosnell subjected his patients to filthy and dangerous conditions, prosecutors presented the jury with a dirty procedure table and a stained ultrasound probe.

That left Dr. Gosnell facing four charges of first-degree murder, as well as one charge of third-degree murder in connection with the death of the patient. The lesser charges he faced included violating a Pennsylvania law that bans abortions beyond 24 weeks, and more than 200 counts of breaking a state law that requires doctors to wait 24 hours to perform an abortion after the first consultation with the patient.

In defense arguments, Mr. McMahon argued that there was no evidence that any of the fetuses were born alive and that his client was therefore not guilty on any of the murder counts. He also told jurors that the death of the patient, a refugee from Bhutan, was due to existing medical problems and not to an overdose of an anesthetic administered by Dr. Gosnell’s unlicensed assistants, as prosecutors had said.

Mr. McMahon also dismissed prosecutors’ arguments that one of the fetuses, Baby C, was alive after being aborted. He said that a reported movement was just a “spasm” and that Baby C was not breathing.

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