Philadelphia Abortion Doctor Accused of Killing Babies With Scissors, Charged With 8 Murders

Prosecutor: Faces 8 murder charges after investigators found body parts in jars.

ByABC News
January 19, 2011, 2:32 PM

Jan. 19, 2011 — -- An abortion doctor in Philadelphia has been charged with eight murders, including seven babies who prosecutors say were born alive then killed with scissors.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, and nine employees from his West Philadelphia Women's Medical Society were arrested Wednesday. He and his staff also are charged with killing a woman who was given a lethal dose of Demerol.

Gosnell catered to minorities, immigrants and poor women, and made millions of dollars over 30 years performing illegal and late-term abortions in squalid and barbaric conditions, prosecutors said.

"There were bags, and bottles holding aborted fetuses were scattered throughout the building," said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. "There were jars lining shelves with severed feet that he kept for no medical purpose."

According to the grand jury report, Gosnell catered to women who were too late in their pregnancies to get legal abortions elsewhere. Most doctors refuse to perform abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy because of the risks involved.

Abortions after the 24th week are illegal. However, Gosnell allegedly aborted and killed babies in the sixth and seventh months of pregnancy and charged more for bigger babies.

The abortions of the biggest babies allegedly were scheduled for Sundays, when the clinic was closed. The only person allowed to assist with such cases was Gosnell's wife, Williams said. Gosnell allegedly took home the files for those patients and disposed of them.

Attempts to reach Gosnell by phone were unsuccessful. But his attorney, William J. Brennan, cited Gosnell's long record of service to a low-income neighborhood.

"It's important that Dr. Gosnell enjoys the presumption of innocence, as do all defendants charged," Brennan said. "The grand jury presentation is lengthy, and Dr. Gosnell should be given the opportunity to review these documents accordingly."

According to Brennan, state and federal authorities raided and searched Gosnell's home and medical practice a year ago and launched an investigation. Gosnell offered to surrender numerous times if charges were ever filed, he said, but never expected to be arrested.

"The man has been in practice for 40 years," Brennan added. "If a complaint was made in the last year, what about the other 39?"

But according to Williams, state regulators ignored numerous complaints about Gosnell's clinic and his office hadn't been inspected since 1993. One doctor advised the department that numerous patients he had referred for abortions came back from Gosnell with the same venereal disease, Williams added.

Even after the death of Karnamaya Mongar, 41, on Nov. 20, 2009 of an alleged overdose of anesthetics prescribed by Gosnell, Williams said, the Department of Health did not act.

In fact, he said, Gosnell was caught by accident.