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Sentencing Day for Abortion Clinic Worker
Steven Massof will be sentenced on two counts of third-degree murder
By Elyse Madison
| Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 | Updated 3:35 PM EDT
An unlicensed doctor will be sentenced Monday for his part in the deaths of two babies born alive at a West Philadelphia abortion clinic.
Steven Massof, of Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty in November to two counts of third-degree murder, murder conspiracy and other charges. The 49-year-old--who admitted to snapping the necks of at least 100 moving and breathing babies--could be sentenced to life in prison, but his plea is expected to earn him a reduced sentence.
Massof is among 10 defendants who plead guilty to charges related to the case. He allegedly graduated from a foreign medical school, but did not have a license to practice medicine.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell also was charged in connection to the deaths. The 70-year-old owned the clinic when he allegedly killed seven babies and a woman--who died following a botched abortion.http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Sentencing-Day-for-Steven-Massof-Abortion-Clinic-Worker-135431128.html
Kermit Gosnell’s abortion assistant
sentenced to prison
Assistant gets 6-12 years for Gosnell clinic role
By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: February 14, 2014
Middle-aged, a graduate of a Caribbean medical school just starting to take his licensing exams, looking for work in the job market's offseason - it wasn't surprising that Steven Massof had trouble finding a residency program.
So Massof leaped at the chance to work at Kermit Gosnell's Women's Medical Society in West Philadelphia: "I wanted to get experience. I wanted to counsel women and their partners about health issues."
What no one - least of all Massof - could explain to Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner was why he stayed five years, working under the table for $300 a week, performing illegal late-term abortions and killing infants born alive.
On Wednesday, Lerner sentenced Massof to six to 12 years in prison. The judge credited Massof's decision to plea guilty to two counts of third-degree murder and testify against Gosnell, but called what happened at the clinic "unspeakably horrible."
"As evil as Dr. Gosnell was, as charismatic as he may have been, he didn't do this alone," Lerner said. "He couldn't do this without the assistance of someone like you."
"I don't know how it started," Massof, 51, voice cracking, told the judge.
"I realize that this is something that's wrong and will never be right and will never go away," Massof said, calling his work with Gosnell "a horrific part of my life."
Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron, who handled the case with Joanne Pescatore, argued for a prison term of 10 to 20 years.
Despite his cooperation, Cameron said, Massof had the education, intelligence, and training to know what he was doing was wrong - and stop it.
Massof, of Pittsburgh, began working at Gosnell's clinic in 2003 and said he quit in 2008, exhausted by the workload, dismayed by deteriorating clinic conditions, and in a dispute with a coworker.
Massof was one of nine Gosnell workers charged in 2011 involving illegal late-term abortions performed at 3801 Lancaster Ave.
Like Gosnell, Massof was charged with first-degree murder for killing infants born live and viable during abortions. He would have faced a possible death sentence if the jury had found him guilty. He pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree murder in exchange for his cooperation with prosecutors.
In May, a Philadelphia jury found Gosnell guilty of three counts of first-degree murder for killing babies born alive during abortions by snipping their spinal cords with scissors. Gosnell, 72, waived his right to appeal to escape a possible death sentence and is serving three consecutive life terms.
Three more Gosnell workers await sentencing.
Defense attorneys Jeffrey M. Lindy and Paul M. George argued that Massof deserved leniency because of his cooperation and the personal price he had paid.
Lindy said Gosnell had told other inmates Massof was a snitch. Massof has since been threatened and is housed in isolation.
Lindy tried to minimize Massof's participation in abortions, saying he mostly worked upstairs in the clinic's family practice.
Pescatore, however, recounted Massof's trial testimony, in which he said there were so many abortions at the clinic, "I felt like a fireman in hell."
"That's how many babies were falling out," the prosecutor added.
View more videos at: http://nbcphiladelphia.com.
View more videos at: http://nbcphiladelphia.com.
Jury split on 2
counts in trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell
Gosnell jurors say
they are "drained"
Jurors Question Murder in Gosnell Abortion Clinic Trial
Jury enters fifth day of deliberations on the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell
By Vince Lattanzio | Monday, May 6, 2013 | Updated 12:07 PM ED
Jurors in the Dr. Kermit Gosnell murder trial started off their fifth day of deliberations with a question about varying murder charges.
The jury of 12 asked Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart to explain the differences between first and third-degree murder. They also asked for definition of the crimes malice, manslaughter and infanticide.
The jury has asked several questions related to the Gosnell capital murder case that's stretched on for seven weeks.
Gosnell, 72, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of four babies. Prosecutors allege Gosnell delivered the babies alive during late-term abortions and then killed them by snipping their spinal cords.
The former doctor is also charged with third-degree murder in the death of former patient Karnamaya Mongar. The 41-year-old died after being given a lethal dose of pain killers during a 2009 procedure.
Defense attorney Jack McMahon has said his client never delivered a baby alive during procedures at his West Philadelphia clinic, the Women's Medical Society. McMahon said Gosnell used the drug Digoxin to stop fetuses' hearts in utero before being delivered.
Seven women and five men are weighing a total of 268 charges against the former doctor.
The jury was brought back into the third-floor courtroom at the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center to hear the charges again around 11 a.m. Monday. The explanations lasted 25 minutes. The courtroom doors were locked as Judge Minehart defined each charge.
Jurors are also deliberating theft by deception charges against Gosnell's co-defendant and former employee Eileen O'Neill. Prosecutors say O'Neill pretended to be a doctor and billed for her services even though she was not a licensed physician.
The jury has asked a handful of questions over the course of deliberations. Former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham says the fact the jury has asked many questions suggests they are taking their time with the cases.
"I think the jury is trying to be very thoughtful and very careful, not rushing to judgment," Abraham said.
The former DA says the difference between first and third-degree murder hinges on pre-mediation.
"First-degree murder is a murder committed with willful, deliberate and pre-meditated state with an intent to kill. That's the grand ingredient of murder -- malice plus an intent to kill specifically," she said.
"Third degree murder is a death which results with malice, but there's no specific intent to kill, but nevertheless, the person dies."
If found guilty of first-degree murder, Gosnell faces the death penalty.
Gosnell's wife Pearl and other former employees, all who have pled guilty to various crimes, were set to be sentenced Monday, but those proceedings were continued.http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Jurors-Question-Murder-in-Gosnell-Abortion-Clinic-Trial-206267301.html
Kermit Gosnell Trial: Jurors ask for clarifications as they
weigh murder charges against Phila. doctor
Jury Deliberations Resume In Kermit Gosnell Trial
The Kermit Gosnell Trial Reignited The
Culture Wars, And Now The Anti-Abortion Activists Are Winning
A jury began deliberations Tuesday in the grisly murder trial of Kermit Gosnell, the 72-year-old Philadelphia abortion doctor accused of murdering four live fetuses by "snipping" their spinal cords after botched abortions.
Over seven weeks of stomach-turning testimony, witnesses for the prosecution detailed Gosnell's "house of horrors," a clinic in which venereal diseases were spread through dirty instruments, feral cats roamed around operating rooms, and fetuses were stashed in empty juice cartons and shoeboxes.
According to the prosecution, these atrocities went undetected by state health inspectors, who visited the clinic just three times, and unreported by other abortion providers, who knew of Gosnell's reputation and even visited the clinic.
The case has predictably inflamed passions on both sides of the abortion debate, both for its horrific content and for the potential policy implications that the trial could have on abortion rights.
To anti-abortion activists, the trial and its gruesome details have presented a rare opportunity to dislodge entrenched positions in the abortion debate. While polling shows that a majority of Americans support legal abortions, those same surveys show that most Americans also believe that late-term abortions — the central issue of the Gosnell trial — should be banned.
“Kermit Gosnell’s horrifying crimes are proof positive that babies are in fact born alive during failed abortions,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a recent statement. "What is the difference between killing a baby minutes before delivery compared to moments after? Only the barest of legal nuances."
Seizing on this public squeamishness with late-term abortions, pro-life activists have used the Gosnell case to draw attention to make an aggressive push for new abortion regulations at the state and federal level.
"The fact that this facility existed is not surprising to me — I'm glad that he was caught, but I'm worried that other clinics are also going uninspected, not only in Pennsylvania but in other states," said Anna Higgins, director of the Family Research Council's Center for Human Dignity.
"The reason is that we have governments that refuse to hold abortion clinics to the same standards as any other medical clinic," Higgins added. "We need to make sure that not only are regulations passed, but that they are enforced. If that means that abortion clinics need to meet these standards, than that's what needs to happen."
In the past three weeks alone, anti-abortion groups have used the grisly details to rally support for new abortion clinic regulations in Virginia, renew momentum for a federal ban on abortions after 20 weeks in Washington, D.C., and draw attention to unsafe conditions at Planned Parenthood clinics in other states.
On Sunday — one day before the closing arguments in the Gosnell trial — the anti-abortion group Live Action released secretly-taped videos of staff members at two East Coast abortion clinics making alarming comments about late-term abortion. (The validity of these videos has since been called into question.)
The public backlash against Gosnell — and late-term abortions
in general — has put pro-choice activists on defense.
Moreover, pro-choice activists fear that further regulations on abortion clinics will further marginalize the procedure, forcing poor and disadvantaged women to seek out back-alley providers like Gosnell.
"It may seem counterintuitive, but these laws are actually pushing women into the hands of Gosnell," said Jessica Arons, director of the Women's Health and Rights program at the Center for American Progress. "They are driving up the cost of abortion and they are driving legitimate abortion providers out of business."
"No one is saying that there should never be an inspection of
a clinic, that there should never be oversight by the state,"
Arons added. "But the solution is not to treat abortion care as
different from other types of health care."
Pa. abortion doctor's murder trial goes to jury
Gosnell faces charges of killing five people, including four babies born alive
Published On: Apr 30 2013 04:23:16 PM EDT
A Philadelphia jury began weighing murder charges Tuesday against a doctor charged with killing five people, including four viable babies allegedly born alive at his abortion clinic.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, performed thousands of abortions over a 30-year career, and authorities say he routinely performed illegal, late-term procedures. He maintains that he helped desperate women and teens who had no other access to medical care.
According to prosecutors, Gosnell cut live babies in the back of the neck to sever their spines because he did not know how to do a proper abortion in utero.
Gosnell is also charged in the 2009 death of a woman patient who was given anesthesia and monitored by two troubled medical assistants and a teenager. By that point, state officials had not inspected Gosnell's clinic since the early 1990s, prosecutors said.
"When people (who are) supposed to regulate these folks don't do it right, that's what happens," Assistant District Attorney Ed Cameron told jurors in closing arguments Monday. "Back alley abortions. Coat hanger abortions. That's what happens."
Gosnell faces 258 counts in all, including four first-degree murder counts, which could bring the death penalty. Clinic workers have admitted killing two of those babies, and accuse Gosnell of killing the other two. But he could be found guilty in all four deaths if the jury finds he shared the intent to kill, the judge said Wednesday in jury instructions.
Other charges against him include one count each of infanticide and racketeering, 24 counts of performing third-trimester abortions and 227 counts of failing to counsel patients a day in advance.
Gosnell's clinic has been shuttered, and two top state health department officials fired, since the FBI raided the clinic one night in 2010 looking for prescription drug abuses. Instead, they found Gosnell's nocturnal clinic in full swing.
Defense lawyer Jack McMahon argued that prosecutors who blasted the clinic as a filthy, flea-infested "house of horrors" in a 2011 grand jury report sensationalized the case to make headlines.
"This isn't a perfect place by any stretch of the imagination -- but it isn't what they say it is," McMahon argued.
Eight former workers have pleaded guilty to murder other charges and have testified to seeing babies move, breathe or whine. Yet some said they did not consider the babies fully alive until they were charged after a 2011 grand jury investigation.
McMahon has seized on that point and argued again Monday that the occasional spasms the workers saw were not the wriggling movements of a newborn baby. Under Pennsylvania law, the judge explained to jurors, babies "born alive" must be expelled or removed from the mother and show one of the following signs of life: brain activity, breathing, the definitive movement of a muscle or the pulsing of the umbilical cord.
McMahon acknowledged that jurors have seen graphic, even grisly, photographs of aborted babies and bloody medical equipment.
"Abortion -- as is any surgical procedure -- isn't pretty," McMahon said. "It's bloody. It's real. But you have to transcend that."
And he refused to back down from aggressive opening remarks in which he called prosecutors "elitist" and "racist" for pursuing his client, who is black.
"We know why he was targeted," McMahon said.
Cameron called Gosnell's operation an assembly line for a stream of poor, mostly minority women and teens, including Karnamaya Mongar, who came from Virginia for an abortion after she was turned away at three other clinics, starting when she was 15 weeks pregnant. Gosnell is charged with third-degree murder in her overdose death.
"Are you human?" Cameron asked Gosnell, "to med these women up and stick knives in the backs of babies?"
The doctor sat calmly at the defense table, as he has throughout the often graphic six-week trial.
Former clinic employee Eileen O'Neill, 56, of Phoenixville, is also on trial, charged with six counts of theft for allegedly billing as a doctor when she was not licensed. O'Neill's lawyer has argued that O'Neill worked under Gosnell's supervision. The jury, asking its first question barely an hour into deliberations, had Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart repeat that charge, suggesting they may be starting with O'Neill's case.
Gosnell did not testify but might take the stand if he is convicted and the trial moves to the penalty phase. He has described himself as an altruistic doctor who returned to serve his medically needy community.
"He provided those desperate young girls with relief. He gave them a solution to their problems," McMahon argued Monday.
But Cameron said whatever intentions he may have once had turned criminal as he focused more on getting rich than on his patients.
"He created an assembly line with no regard for these women whatsoever. And he made money doing that," Cameron said.http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/news/pa-abortion-doctors-murder-trial-goes-to-jury/-/4714498/19957386/-/hw9v4qz/-/index.html
Both Sides Rest in Trial of a Philadelphia Abortion Doctor Charged With Murder
April 29, 2013
By TRIP GABRIEL
PHILADELPHIA — They are known as Baby Boy A, Baby C, Baby D and Baby E, all of whom prosecutors call murdered children and the defense calls aborted fetuses — the very difference in language encapsulating why anti-abortion advocates are so passionate about drawing attention to the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, which wrapped up here on Monday with summations by both sides.
In five weeks of testimony, jurors were told that Dr. Gosnell, 72, had performed late-term abortions by injecting a drug to stop the heart of the fetus, but that when one jerked an arm, cried or drew breath outside the womb, its spinal cord was cut with surgical scissors.
To anti-abortion leaders, the accounts have the power to break through decades of hardened positions in the abortion wars, not just because of the graphic details but because they raise the philosophical issue of why an abortion procedure performed in utero is legal, but a similar act a few minutes later, outside the womb, is considered homicide.
The distinction “is maybe a 15-minute or half-hour time frame and 10 inches of physical space,” said Michael Geer, the president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, an anti-abortion group. “I think it’s going to resurrect a debate about the humanity of the unborn child.”
Abortion rights groups have a very different view. They say that Dr. Gosnell was a rogue practitioner, and that if abortion is further restricted, more women will be driven to clinics like his, which prosecutors called a “house of horrors.”
Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative legal organization in Washington, said, “This case in the end is going to be viewed as monumental, no matter what the verdict is.”
Last week, Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart of the Court of Common Pleas threw out three of seven first-degree murder charges against Dr. Gosnell. The doctor’s defense lawyer, Jack J. McMahon, argued Monday that none of the remaining four cases had resulted in live births.
Because the women were given injections of the drug digoxin, which causes “fetal demise,” Mr. McMahon argued, any postdelivery movements were involuntary spasms.
“Every single piece of scientific evidence in this case has shown stillbirth,” he said.
But Edward Cameron, an assistant district attorney, countered that testimony showed Dr. Gosnell did not always use digoxin and that it did not always work as intended. He quoted a former clinic worker with medical school training but no doctor’s license who testified that the drug “wasn’t giving the desired effect, the heart was always beating.”
The prosecutor cited Pennsylvania law stating that if a baby delivered during an abortion “shows any sign of life, it’s considered alive — a heartbeat, breathing, a cry, movement.”
The jury will now make that determination in the cases, including that of Baby Boy A, whom clinic workers testified Dr. Gosnell joked was big enough “to walk me home.”
Baby D, a clinic worker testified, was delivered into a toilet by a woman waiting for Dr. Gosnell and it appeared to make swimming motions before one of the doctor’s assistants pulled it out and cut its neck.
Two workers said they heard Baby E crying before Dr. Gosnell cut its spine with scissors. The prosecutor quoted a worker: “It made noises, a whine like my baby.”
Mr. McMahon also cited the trial testimony, in which the clinic worker acknowledged she did not know for sure if Baby E was born alive. Eight workers from the clinic, the Women’s Medical Society in West Philadelphia, have pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the case, including Dr. Gosnell’s wife, Pearl, a cosmetologist who helped perform abortions.
If convicted, Dr. Gosnell could face the death penalty.
The case became a cause célèbre when anti-abortion activists complained that the mainstream news media were ignoring it for ideological reasons. It has since been widely covered, and every seat in the courtroom was taken on Monday.
Anti-abortion campaigners have seized on the trial because it highlights late-term abortions performed after fetal viability. The same public opinion polls that for decades have shown that a majority of Americans support abortion also show that most of them want it banned in certain cases.
Abortion opponents have leveraged these mixed feelings in recent years to lobby at the state level to restrict the procedure. Nine states have banned most abortions beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy. Last month, two states went further: Arkansas banned abortion after 12 weeks and North Dakota beyond about 6 weeks, when a fetal heartbeat is “detectable.” Abortion rights groups said both limits would be found unconstitutional in federal court.
Though late-term abortions are central to the Gosnell case, they are extremely rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 92 percent of abortions are performed before 14 weeks, with 1.3 percent beyond 20 weeks.
“No woman carries their child to six, seven, eight months and then one day decides they don’t want to become a parent,” said Ilyse Hogue, the president of Naral Pro-Choice America. “These are terrible, tragic situations where families have to make difficult choices with their doctors. I think most Americans believe that’s where they belong.”
To abortion rights groups, if abortion is further restricted, desperate women will be forced to seek providers like Dr. Gosnell, who is also accused of performing 24 abortions beyond 24 weeks of pregnancy, the limit in Pennsylvania.
“Restrictions really work to hinder access to safe abortion,” said Dayle Steinberg, the president of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania. “It only increases the number of economically disadvantaged women who find themselves in extreme circumstances and they turn to unsafe options for care.”
Dr. Gosnell is also accused of third-degree murder in the death of a 41-year-old patient from Virginia, who visited his clinic after being turned away by three clinics closer to her home, according to testimony by a daughter of the woman.
Mr. McMahon said Dr. Gosnell’s staff members who pleaded guilty did so out of fear of the district attorney’s office, which he accused of creating “a tsunami of hype” in a grand jury report and in the news media about Dr. Gosnell’s practices. To counter that, he showed slides of a waiting room, hallway and procedure rooms at the defunct clinic that looked scrubbed and clean.
The prosecution, for its turn, rolled in a filthy procedure table and broken equipment removed from the clinic. Mr. Cameron, the assistant district attorney, brandished a stained ultrasound probe with unconcealed disgust.
The jury was expected to begin deliberations on Tuesday.http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/us/trial-abortion-doctor-kermit-gosnell.html
Closing arguments set for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell
PHILADELPHIA - April 24, 2013 (WPVI) --
defense rested on Wednesday in the murder trial of Philadelphia
abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.
Kermit Gosnell lawyer: Abortion clinic no 'house of
BS/AP) PHILADELPHIA - A Philadelphia jury is expected to start weighing murder charges in the trial of a veteran abortion provider charged with killing four viable babies after they were born alive.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, performed thousands of abortions over
a 30-year career. He maintains that he helped desperate women
and teens who had no other access to medical care.
Pa. judge corrects charges tossed in abortion case
By MARYCLAIRE DALE | Associated Press – Wed, Apr 24, 2013
Lawyers for Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, could start presenting defense witnesses as early as Wednesday. Gosnell has been in prison since a 2011 grand jury report that described his outdated West Philadelphia clinic as "a house of horrors."
Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart had ruled Tuesday that prosecutors over the past month failed to make a case on three of the seven first-degree murder counts, involving aborted babies known as Baby B, Baby C and Baby G.
On Wednesday, Minehart clarified that he did not intend to dismiss charges related to Baby C, which former employee Lynda Williams admits killing after it was alive for 20 minutes.
Instead, Minehart has thrown out the charges involving Baby F, which allegedly jerked its leg after it was born. Another staff member says Gosnell then cut the baby's neck to "ensure fetal demise."
Defense lawyer Jack McMahon challenged testimony from former
staffers that they routinely saw aborted babies move, breathe or
cry, even after they'd been given a drug designed to stop their
heart in utero. McMahon argued that any movement or breath seen
by the staffers amounted to involuntary spasms.
"These are not the movements of a live child," McMahon argued Tuesday, after a month of prosecution testimony. "There is not one piece — not one — of objective, scientific evidence that anyone was born alive."
Minehart did not elaborate on his ruling, leaving the nearly full courtroom of reporters, abortion opponents and others to interpret his reasoning.
The body of Baby B had been found stored in a plastic water jug in 2010. The baby, like others, had been "snipped" or cut in the neck, and prosecution witnesses estimated it to be 28 weeks gestation. But McMahon had argued there was no evidence the baby had breathed outside the womb.
And unlicensed doctor Stephen Massof had said he saw Gosnell
cut the spine of Baby G, after seeing what he called "a
respiratory excursion." McMahon, though, said there was no proof
of the baby's age or viability.
"She wasn't treated any differently than any of the other thousands of other people who went through there," McMahon argued, attributing the death to a medical complication.
Prosecutors have said that patients were routinely exposed to
unsanitary, intentionally reckless conditions at Gosnell's
clinic. Former staffers have testified that patients received
heavy sedatives and painkillers from untrained workers while
Gosnell was offsite, and were then left in waiting rooms for
hours, often unattended.
The prosecution rested Thursday, and the defense is calling witnesses this week. It's not known if Gosnell will testify.
A string of character witnesses testified Tuesday afternoon for Gosnell's co-defendant, Eileen O'Neill. She is charged with three counts of theft for practicing medicine without a license, after Minehart dismissed six similar counts.
Eight other former co-workers, including Gosnell's wife
Pearl, have pleaded guilty to charges ranging from third-degree
murder to racketeering to performing illegal, late-term
Jury returns Monday for Pa. abortion case closings
By MARYCLAIRE DALE | Associated Press – 21 hrs ago
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia jury won't hear from an abortion provider before they weigh charges that he killed a woman and four viable babies.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell decided Wednesday not to testify or call witnesses at his capital murder trial. The jury is set to hear closing arguments on Monday.
Gosnell, 72, is charged with killing babies after they were born alive at his West Philadelphia clinic, which allegedly catered to poor, desperate women and teens with late-term pregnancies.
The trial judge this week dismissed charges involving three other babies, apparently finding the prosecution did not present sufficient evidence they were viable, born alive and then killed.
Gosnell also is charged in the 2009 overdose death of a 41-year-old abortion patient.
A string of former employees have testified that Gosnell relied on untrained staff to sedate and monitor women as they waited for abortions.
Three workers have pleaded guilty to third-degree murder charges, admitting they helped medicate the adult victim or "snipped" babies' necks after they were born alive to make sure they died.
They told jurors that Gosnell had taught them the technique, and said they trusted that it was legal. At least one, though, admits she grew so concerned about conditions at the clinic that she took pictures of the outdated equipment, messy rooms and stacked specimen jars containing the severed feet of aborted babies.
Gosnell told staff he sometimes kept the samples for DNA purposes in case the pregnancy led to assault charges. Prosecution experts said there were less invasive ways to preserve DNA.
"Once fetuses leave the mother, they are then due the respect that would be given any human being," Assistant District Attorney Ed Cameron argued Tuesday, in support of abuse of corpse charges filed over the severed feet.
Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart, though, agreed with a defense motion to drop those charges.
Minehart on Tuesday also threw out three of the original seven murder charges involving aborted babies.
"There is not one piece — not one — of objective, scientific evidence that anyone was born alive," defense lawyer Jack McMahon argued Tuesday, in what was likely a preview of his closing arguments.
McMahon did most of his work by grilling prosecution witnesses, including former clinic workers. Although several said they had seen babies born alive, McMahon suggested the brief movements or breaths they saw were actually involuntary spasms during the death process. He argued that each of the babies had purportedly moved, breathed or whined just once.
"These are not the movements of a live child," McMahon said Tuesday.
One employee, though, has pleaded guilty to killing a baby that was alive for about 20 minutes.
Expert witness testimony has been another key portion of the case. Prosecutors called neonatologists who estimated that some of the babies were nearly 30 weeks gestation, far past the state's 24-week limit for abortions.
McMahon argued that such dating is imprecise, and that the margin of error is at least two weeks on either side.
The only employee to go on trial with Gosnell, medical school graduate Eileen O'Neill, is charged with theft for allegedly practicing medicine without a license.
Her attorney called a string of witnesses this week, most of whom testified about her character. O'Neill, 56, of Phoenixville, didn't take the stand.http://news.yahoo.com/jury-returns-monday-pa-abortion-case-closings-064857717.html
In Kermit Gosnell abortion case, ex-employees say clinic was horrific place
By Maryclaire Dale,
Published: April 12
PHILADELPHIA — Former employees of a run-down West Philadelphia abortion clinic described a chaotic and horrific workplace under the direction of a 72-year-old doctor who is facing capital murder charges in the deaths of a patient and seven babies allegedly born alive.
In testimony during the past month at the capital murder trial of Kermit Gosnell, eight former employees said they performed grueling, often gruesome work for little more than minimum wage, paid by Gosnell under the table. Three have pleaded guilty to third-degree murder.
Gosnell, once a gifted student in his working-class black neighborhood, had put his medical degree to work as a 1970s-era champion of drug treatment and legal abortions. But 30 years later, conditions inside his bustling clinic and his old neighborhood had deteriorated, according to trial testimony.
“Gosnell recklessly cut corners, allowed patients to choose their medication based on ability to pay, and provided abysmal care — all to maximize his profit,” prosecutors wrote in the 2011 grand jury report. “He was not serving his community. Gosnell ran a criminal enterprise, motivated by greed.”
Unlicensed physician Stephen Massof, 50, of Pittsburgh, said he could not get a U.S. medical residency after finishing medical school in Grenada and went to work for Gosnell as a “backup plan” after six years of running a bar. He admitted killing two babies by snipping their necks, as he said Gosnell taught him to do. Massof has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder.
Eileen O’Neill, 56, had worked as a doctor in Louisiana but relinquished her medical license in 2000 to deal with “post-traumatic stress syndrome,” according to her 2011 grand jury testimony. She is the only employee on trial with Gosnell, fighting false billing and racketeering charges.
According to one colleague, O’Neill was increasingly upset at the line of people who came to Gosnell’s adjacent medical clinic for painkillers. However, O’Neill, like many others, stayed on at the clinic until a February 2010 drug raid, which was spawned by Gosnell’s high-volume distribution of Oxycontin and other painkillers.
Defense lawyer Jack McMahon said that no babies were born alive and unforeseen complications caused the overdose death of one woman.
“Just because the place was less than state-of-the-art doesn’t make him a murderer,” McMahon said in opening statements last month.
Front desk worker Tina Baldwin, like colleague Latosha Lewis, had trained to be a medical assistant at a vocational school before going to work for Gosnell in 2002. She handed out drugs at the front desk to induce labor, while Lewis helped perform ultrasounds, administer medications and deliver babies. Lewis worked from 10 a.m. until well after midnight, making $7 to $10 an hour. Baldwin now faces at least a year in prison, and perhaps much longer, after pleading guilty to federal drug charges and state charges that include corruption of a minor.
Two other clinic workers with family ties to Gosnell have pleaded guilty in the case but hope to get reduced terms in exchange for their cooperation. And Gosnell’s third wife, Pearl Gosnell, a licensed cosmetologist, pleaded guilty to performing illegal, late-term abortions.
The others involved include clinic workers Lynda Williams and Sherry West. Williams was hired to clean instruments but soon helped anesthetize patients, perform ultrasounds and carry out abortions, cutting babies in the back of the neck. She has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, which carries a 20- to 40-year prison sentence.
West, 53, had been a longtime surgical technician at the Veterans Administration but quit in 2007 after contracting Hepatitis C. A year later, still waiting on disability benefits, she went to work for Gosnell. West has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder for administering drugs to the refugee from Bhutan who died of a drug overdose during a 2009 abortion.
— Associated Presshttp://failover.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-kermit-gosnell-abortion-case-ex-employees-say-clinic-was-horrific-place/2013/04/12/b1a0ee54-a3ba-11e2-be47-b44febada3a8_story.html