A Philadelphia physician who routinely performed late-term abortions by inducing labor in the mother and then severing the spinal cords of the live newborn infant committed murder, according to the prosecuting attorney seeking a death penalty.
Jury selection began Monday and is expected to last a week in the case of the 72-year-old Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who saw himself as a medical missionary but ran what Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams called a “house of horrors.”
“It was a house of horrors beyond any type of definition or explanation I can humbly try to give,” Williams told CNN in January 2011.
Gosnell’s office was raided three years ago after the police received reports that he ran a “pill mill” — that he dispensed prescription drugs to anyone with the money. What greeted the police who served the search warrant was something else entirely.
“Semiconscious, moaning women sat in dirty recliners and on bloodstained blankets. The air reeked of urine from the flea-infested cats permitted to roam the clinic. There was blood on the floor and cat feces on the stairs. One investigator likened the scene to ‘a bad gas-station restroom,’” according to Philly.com.
They also found bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses scattered throughout the building, and jars containing the severed feet of babies lined a shelf.
“My grasp of the English language doesn’t really allow me to fully describe how horrific this clinic was — rotting bodies, fetal remains, the smell of urine throughout, blood-stained, broken furniture,” Williams said.
Pennsylvania bans abortions after 24 weeks. However, investigations indicate that some of the abortions performed at Gosnell’s clinic involved third-trimester pregnancies. In one case disclosed to the 2011 grand jury, Gosnell allegedly joked that the baby was so big it could walk to the bus stop.
“A doctor who cuts into the necks severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies, who would survive with proper medical attention, is committing murder under the law,” Williams said.
Gosnell’s understanding of the Hippocratic oath — “First do no harm” — is apparently at odds with the population at large.
Trial is scheduled to begin with opening statements on March 14, where Gosnell will face eight counts of murder — one of a mother who died of over-medication and seven babies.
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