Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who currently is on trial in Philadelphia for the murder of seven babies that were born alive and then killed, would, according to the grand jury report on the case, perform the latest-term abortions – “the really big ones” – on Sundays.
Gosnell did these very late-term abortions at his clinic in West Philadelphia assisted only by his wife, Pearl Gosnell, on the one day the clinic was closed, Sunday. Other clinic workers were not allowed to assist in these abortions and it is believed that many of the medical records of these procedures may have been destroyed, according to the grand jury report.
The grand jury report was released in January 2011. As it states, “This report documents multiple murders of viable babies. The evidence makes a compelling case that many others were also murdered… It was Gosnell’s standard business practice to slay viable babies.”
“Gosnell made little effort to hide his illegal abortion practice,” reads the report. “But there were some, ‘the really big ones,’ that even he was afraid to perform in front of others. These abortions were scheduled for Sundays, a day when the clinic was closed and none of the regular employees were present. Only one person was allowed to assist with these special cases – Gosnell’s wife.”
“The files for these patients were not kept at the office; Gosnell took them home with him and disposed of them,” reads the report. “We may never know the details of these cases. We do know, however, that, during the rest of the week, Gosnell routinely aborted and killed babies in the sixth and seventh month of pregnancy. The Sunday babies must have been bigger still.” (See Grand Jury Report.pdf)
“According to his staff, the doctor and his wife, Pearl, preformed extremely late-term procedures on Sundays,” reads the grand jury report.
Steve Massof, an unlicensed medical school graduate, worked for Gosnell for nearly 5 years, from July 2003 to June 2008. Massof, and another employee, Latosha Lewis, told the grand jury “that they believed Gosnell dealt with some of the patients with the longest-term pregnancies on Sundays, when his staff was not at the clinic.”
“When Massof came in on Monday mornings he would find bloody instruments in the sink even though they had all been cleaned before the facility closed on Saturday night,” reads the report. “When Massof asked Gosnell if he had seen patients on Sunday, the doctor answered, according to Massof: ‘Oh, yes, I took care of it. I had my wife or somebody help me or whatever.’ Gosnell’s wife Pearl confirmed that she assisted her husband with procedures on Sundays.”
The grand jury report also says, “Pearl [Gosnell] testified that she alone assisted on Sundays, and that her role was to ‘help do the instruments’ in the procedure room and to monitor patients in the recovery room. [Latosha] Lewis testified that Pearl assisted with late-term abortions ‘on Sundays or days we were closed [to] do special cases.’”
Under Pennsylvania law, it is illegal to perform an abortion on a baby that is beyond 24 weeks development.
In addition to aborting “the really big ones” on Sundays with just his wife assisting in the actions, Gosnell performed many post-24-week abortions during the week. As the grand jury report states, “Latosha Lewis testified that Gosnell performed procedures over 24 weeks ‘too much to count,’ and ones up to 26 weeks ‘very often.’” (See Grand Jury Report.pdf)
Lewis (and other clinic workers) also testified that labor was induced using drugs and babies would expel – “precipitate” – from their mother’s wombs in the clinic, sometimes on the floor, on chairs, or in the toilets.
The grand jury report states, “Latosha Lewis testified that she saw babies precipitate at 23 to 28 weeks. In those cases, Massof or Gosnell: …would cut the back of the neck and insert a curette, which is a plastic tubing… that is used to do a suction. You would insert it in the back of the neck of the baby, so that the brain would come out.”
Sometimes Gosnell would just snip the neck, said Lewis, adding that she saw babies move before Gosnell cut their necks.
The testimony reads:
“Q. How many times did you see precipitated babies that had been fully expelled from its mother moving before he snipped the neck?
“A. A lot.
“Q. Can you give us a percentage of the time?
“A. Probably 25 percent of the time.”
“No steps were ever taken to attend to these babies,” reads the report, and quotes Lewis as saying, “we never even checked to see if [there] was a heartbeat.”
“Lewis, who had herself given birth twice, recognized that the larger precipitated babies were viable,” states the report. (Grand Jury Report.pdf)
Kermit Gosnell is charged with seven counts of first-degree murder (seven babies), one count of third-degree murder of a mother, as well as infanticide, conspiracy, abortion at 24 or more weeks, abuse of a corpse, theft, corruption of minors, solicitation and other related offenses.
Pearl Gosnell has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy and to performing illegal abortions. Seven other former clinic employees have also pleaded guilty to a variety of related charges.