West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell
The defense for accused infant killer Kermit Gosnell is scheduled to start this week, and the testimony of a prosecution witness could actually help the 72-year-old abortion provider.
Chief Medical Examiner Sam Gulino testified last week that he couldn't say for sure whether any babies in Gosnell's clinic had been born alive, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. That testimony could help Gosnell, whose main defense is that no babies were ever born alive in his clinic.
Prosecutors say otherwise. He's charged with killing seven live babies and a 41-year-old patient, and a gruesome, 281-page grand jury report says he likely killed many other live babies by "snipping" their spinal cords.
Gosnell is also accused of spreading venereal diseases with dirty instruments, employing a 15-year-old to assist with abortions, and operating a filthy clinic covered in cat feces. The most disturbing parts of the report are disturbing photos of babies whose necks have been "snipped" and jars with severed fetus feet.
There's no apparent medical explanation for cutting off the babies' feet, or for "snipping" the necks of babies that were already dead.
To convict Gosnell of first-degree murder, though, prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he killed live babies. Gulino, the chief medical examiner, could have planted some seeds of doubt when he testified that he couldn't say any of the 47 fetuses recovered from Gosnell's clinic were born alive.
Gulino said it was tough to tell whether they were born alive because they'd been frozen.
"We know that the freezing and thawing will destroy tissue, cause fluid to leak from blood vessels into tissue, and that would potentially impede the method that we usually use to determine if fetuses are liveborn or not," Gulino said in court, according to the Inquirer.
Gosnell defense attorney Jack McMahon then asked an incisive follow-up question.
"And am I correct then that based on your total evaluation of these fetuses, 47 of them, we've gone over this at length, you cannot testify that any one of these was born alive, can you?"
The chief medical examiner reportedly responded by saying, "That's correct. I cannot."
The defense was slated to start Monday but has been postponed because McMahon is sick.
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