April 23, 2013

Judge rejects three charges against Pennsylvania abortion doctor

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA —  A judge has thrown out three murder charges against a Pennsylvania abortion doctor that alleged the deaths of babies born alive.

click image to enlarge

Karnamaya Mongar is shown with her husband, whose first name was not given. Mongar, 41, died after seeking an abortion and is the subject of one murder count in the ongoing Philadelphia trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell.

AP Photo/Philadelphia District Attorney

click image to enlarge

Dr. Kermit Gosnell

2011 AP file photo/Philadelphia Daily News/Yong Kim

Here is a guide to the trial:

Dr. Kermit Gosnell is on trial, charged with murder, in the deaths of a female patient and seven babies prosecutors say were born alive at the abortion clinic he ran. Tuesday's ruling reduces the number of cases involving the deaths of babies to four. A look at the facts in the case:

THE INVESTIGATION

In February 2010, agents from Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI who were conducting two raids on Gosnell's clinic in search of drug violations instead stumbled upon "deplorable and unsanitary" conditions, including blood on the floor and parts of aborted fetuses in jars.

State regulators shut down the Women's Medical Society clinic in west Philadelphia and suspended Gosnell's license.

THE GRAND JURY REPORT

A nearly 300-page grand jury report released in January 2011 described Gosnell's clinic as a filthy, foul-smelling "house of horrors" that was overlooked by regulators.

Prosecutors said Gosnell made millions of dollars over three decades performing thousands of dangerous abortions, many of them illegal late-term procedures. The clinic had no trained nurses or medical staff other than Gosnell, a family physician not certified in obstetrics or gynecology, yet authorities say many administered anesthesia, painkillers and labor-inducing drugs.

The grand jury report stated furniture and blankets in Gosnell's clinic were stained with blood, instruments were not properly sterilized and disposable medical supplies were used repeatedly. Bags, jars and bottles holding aborted fetuses were scattered throughout the building, which reeked of cat urine because of the animals allowed to roam freely.

State regulators ignored complaints about Gosnell and the 46 lawsuits filed against him and made just five annual inspections since the clinic opened in 1979, investigators said. Several state employees were fired and two agencies overhauled their regulations after the allegations.

THE CHARGES

Gosnell was charged with eight counts of murder. After Tuesday's ruling he stands accused of first-degree murder in the deaths of four newborns and third-degree murder in the 2009 death of a 41-year-old Bhutanese refugee prosecutors say received lethal doses of sedatives and painkillers at the clinic while awaiting an abortion. He also is charged with violating Pennsylvania abortion law by performing abortions after 24 weeks, operating a corrupt organization and other crimes.

He pleaded not guilty and has remained held without bail since his arrest. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the infant deaths.

Prosecutors estimated Gosnell ended hundreds of pregnancies by inducing labor and cutting the babies' spinal cords and caused scores of women to suffer infections and permanent internal injuries, but they said they couldn't prosecute more cases because he destroyed files.

Eight clinic workers including Gosnell's wife, a beautician accused of helping him perform illegal third-term abortions, have pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes. Three of Gosnell's staffers, including an unlicensed medical school graduate and a woman with a sixth-grade education, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder for their roles in the woman's overdose death or for cutting babies in the back of the neck to ensure their demise.

THE DEFENSE

In an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News after the clinic was raided, Gosnell described himself as someone who wanted to serve the poor and minorities in the neighborhood where he grew up and raised his six children, who include a doctor and a college professor.

Gosnell's defense lawyer, Jack McMahon, disputes that any babies were born alive. He has suggested that the woman who died, Karnamaya Mongar, had undisclosed respiratory problems that could have caused fatal complications.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)