Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dr. Kermit Gosnell and the Philadelphia Abortion Mill

Viable Babies

An 18-page chapter in the Grand Jury report is entitled "The Intentional Killing of Viable Babies." Gosnell was supposed to perform abortions, but because he often performed abortions on women who were well past the legal limit of 24 weeks, many of the fetuses were fully-formed and could survive if delivered. The practice of inducing labor, actually meant that many of the women gave birth. Sometimes they were told to sit on a toilet and expunge the baby, because Gosnell was not there to oversee the procedure. Other times, a baby would come out of the womb and Gosnell would take a live, screaming, kicking baby and sever its spinal cord with a snip of the scissors. It was a practice, the Grand Jury report alleges, that happened hundreds of times over the years, but because much of the paperwork and evidence was destroyed, there were only seven provable incidents.

Freezer packed with fetal remains.
Freezer packed with fetal remains. More Photos
His young victims included Baby Boy A, nearly 7 and a half months, killed and discarded in a plastic shoe box. Baby Boy B, 28 weeks, was frozen forever in a gallon water bottle. Baby C was living in the world for 20 minutes before Williams, according to testimony by Cross, came in and extinguished the new life with a slice to the neck, as she'd seen Gosnell do.

Kareema Cross had actually taken a picture of Baby A, because he was so large. At 18 to 19 inches, he was large enough for the doctor to joke about: "This baby is big enough to walk around with me or walk me to the bus stop."

Cross testified: "I knew something was wrong because everything, like you can see everything, the hair, eyes, everything. And I never seen for any other procedure that he did, I never seen any like that."

Where were the authorities? Surely a place this disgusting and dangerous would have been noticed and reported. Though many of the women were likely too scared to go to police (they had after all, undergone an illegal procedure), many times they would turn up at hospitals with fetal remains still inside them, bleeding from puncture wounds, or going into septic shock from infection. The doctors who treated these women would sometimes alert authorities, attorneys who were representing some of the women would complain to the Department of Health. The powers that be even knew that a woman had died while at his clinic and had been tipped off by a former employee to the full extent of the conditions there years earlier.

Incredibly, though, no one inspected the premises between 1993 and 2010, and Gosnell stayed in business.

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