West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell
Gosnell allegedly "snipped" the spinal cords of hundreds of live babies after inducing labor in mothers who were more than 24 weeks pregnant.
Abortions after the sixth month are illegal in Pennsylvania and some other states unless the mother's health is at serious risk because fetuses tend to be viable after that age. Gosnell's employees testified babies whose spinal cords he "snipped" were already moving around after they were born.
Gosnell says the babies weren't alive and were just in "death throes," because he'd killed them in the womb using the abortion drug Digoxin. While doctors have been known to use that drug to kill fetuses after the 20th week of pregnancy, one doctor testified in his trial that she'd never heard of another abortion doctor "snipping" an aborted fetus' spinal cord.
Here's how abortion actually works: Before about 12 to 16 weeks of pregnancy, women typically have a procedure known as "vacuum aspiration," in which doctors insert tubes into the cervix and suction out the fetus.
After 12-16 weeks and up until 24 weeks, doctors use a procedure known as "dilation and evacuation," dilating the cervix and scraping out the fetus and placenta.
Abortion doctors induce labor in the second trimester in rare cases and give the fetus drugs to "ensure fetal demise" before it's delivered — as Gosnell says he did. This type of abortion is risky, though.
"Labor induction abortion carries the highest risk for problems, such as infection and heavy bleeding, stroke, and high blood pressure," the Lousiana health department says on its website.
Despite these risks, Gosnell allegedly induced labor in pregnant women as a matter of course. His employee, Latosha Lewis, says he induced labor to save time, according to a scathing, 281-page grand jury report laying out the allegations against Gosnell.
"A surgical procedure to remove fetuses, Lewis explained, could take half an hour," the report says. "Whereas there was little to do — just suctioning the placenta — when babies were already expelled."
Not only did Gosnell allegedly induce labor to save time, but he also allegedly spread venereal diseases by using dirty equipment and gave women bloody blankets to wrap themselves in.
The grand jury focused on his apparent disregard for the health of patients.
"We ourselves cover a spectrum of personal beliefs about the morality of abortion," the report stated. "For us as a criminal grand jury, however, the case is not about that controversy; it is about disregard of the law and disdain for the lives and health of mother and infants."
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