In a surprising development in one of the most sensational murder trials in recent memory, several charges — including three murder counts — have been dropped against Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell. The proprietor of Philadelphia's Women’s Medical Society abortion clinic, dubbed by the media as the “House of Horrors,” had been charged in the deaths of seven babies born alive at the abortion facility and then murdered, along with the death of a 41-year-old abortion patient. But on April 23, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer, Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart tossed out three of the murder charges in the deaths of the infants, along with five counts of corpse abuse in relation to Gosnell's habit of storing the feet of killed infants in plastic containers at the clinic. Minehart also dismissed one count of infanticide, which is the intentional killing of an infant.
The 72-year-old abortionist, who allegedly made millions of dollars over the past 30 years performing abortions — including illegal late-term procedures on babies at least seven months in development — in a clinic investigators described as unbelievably filthy, still faces the death penalty in the deaths of four babies, whom prosecutors argued were born alive and then killed when Gosnell plunged a surgical scissors into the backs of their necks and severed their spinal cords. A grand jury indictment speculated that hundreds of viable babies may have been murdered in a similar manner by Gosnell or one of his employees, several of whom have pled guilty to murder.
Gosnell's attorney, Jack McMahon had asked the judge to drop all the murder charges, arguing that there was no proof that any babies had been born alive at the clinic. Minehart gave no reason for dropping some of the murder charges and not others. The Associated Press reported that McMahon “challenged testimony from former staffers that they routinely saw aborted babies move, breathe, or cry, even after they'd been given a drug designed to stop their heart in utero. McMahon argued that any movement or breath seen by the staffers amounted to involuntary spasms.”
McMahon insisted to jurors that what the staffers witnessed were “not the movements of a live child. There is not one piece — not one — of objective, scientific evidence that anyone was born alive.” Of course, the fact that the doctor snipped the babies' spinal columns implies that either the doctor knew the babies were born alive or that he, at least, believed that they might be alive.
LifeNews.com reported that one of the charges dropped by Minehart was for the death of a baby who was later discovered in a freezer at Gosnell's clinic. A second of the dropped charges involved an infant, identified in the trial as “Baby B,” who survived an abortion procedure and was deposited in a shoe box by Gosnell. A clinic employee testified that the abortionist later took the still-breathing baby to another part of the procedure room and snipped his spinal cord.
The third murder charge thrown out was for an infant identified as “Baby G,” whom clinic employee Steven Massof testified to the grand jury he saw alive. According to the grand jury report, the 50-year-old former medical student testified that Baby G exhibited “a respiratory excursion” — meaning a breath. Massof went on to relate that Gosnell later “snipped the cervical part of the vertebra” of the newborn, killing him.
Massof worked for Gosnell between 2003 and 2008, and estimated during his testimony that he witnessed the births of some 100 babies, whose spinal cords were then snipped with a surgical scissors — “literally a beheading,” he said. He said the procedure was nothing less than “separating the brain from the body.” Massof has pled guilty to third-degree murder in the deaths of two infants born alive at the clinic.
Pro-life leaders reacted to the news of the dropped charges with outrage. “I am shocked that these counts have been dismissed,” said Cheryl Sullenger, a senior policy advisor for Operation Rescue. Sullenger has attended the proceedings and heard much of the testimony against the abortionist. “I have heard testimony by very credible witnesses to the effect that these babies were murdered in cold blood by Gosnell as they cried and struggled for life,” she said. “We pray that justice will be done in the remaining five victims of Gosnell’s horrific slayings.”
Sullenger warned that if Gosnell is somehow acquitted of the murders, it would “send a message that murdering live babies and abortion patients is now acceptable behavior in America and that abortionists who engage in such depraved practices are above the law.”
Operation Rescue president Troy Newman called the Gosnell case a “watershed moment” for the abortion issue in the United States. “The discovery of his horrific practices helped shed light on an abortion industry that has run amok without oversight or accountability for decades,” he said, “and has prompted significant changes in abortion laws and attitudes toward enforcement in several states.”