Philadelphia abortionist goes on trial for murder

by Whitney Williams
Posted 3/18/13, 10:40 am

A 72-year-old Philadelphia abortionist may spend the rest of his life on death row for murder. His trial begins today.

Kermit Gosnell is charged with running a shady abortion facility in West Philadelphia that allegedly performed illegal, late-term abortions and hurt innumerable women through sloppy medical procedures. He pleaded not guilty in the deaths of a female patient and seven babies born alive. 

Eight employees charged with him admitted their guilt, including his wife, a beautician accused of assisting Gosnell in secretive third-term abortions done on Sundays.

A heart-wrenching, sickening 2011 grand jury report describes the facility’s nearly unfathomable conditions: fetal body parts in glass jars and staff refrigerators; soiled, blood-stained operating areas; women and teens mutilated after Gosnell perforated a uterus or colon.

"Anybody walking into that clinic should have known immediately that it should have been shut down," said Bernard Smalley, a lawyer for the family of Karnamaya Mongar, a 41-year-old refugee who passed away after being given too much anesthesia and pain medication during a 2009 abortion.

Philadelphia prosecutors claim state and local authorities turned a blind eye to laws requiring routine inspections. They also say the occasional complaints that came in, one after an earlier patient death, went unchecked.

"We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion," said the 2011 grand jury report, released by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.

Click here for WORLD’s recent coverage of the case and Kermit Gosnell.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Listen to a report on the Kermit Gosnell case on WORLD’s radio news magazine The World and Everything in It.

Whitney Williams

Whitney is a member of WORLD's development team.

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