Kermit Gosnell sits accused of eight homicides. His alleged victims include seven newborn babies the prosecution claims he killed with surgical scissors. His eighth alleged victim, Karnamaya Mongar, is a 41-year-old woman who came to the doctor seeking an abortion and left in an ambulance, her heart stopped for good by an overdose of drugs delivered by unlicensed staff. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. Yet throughout his long trial, no matter how awful the accusations leveled against him by witnesses, Gosnell sits there smiling.
Just as the prosecution seems utterly convinced that Kermit Gosnell, the West Philly abortionist, began killing babies well past the 24-week gestational age permitted under state abortion laws, his smile suggests he seems equally sure that he has done nothing wrong.
Aspiring Doctor Steve Massof Thought He “Was Learning” at the Side of Kermit Gosnell
The prosecution has built its case with Gosnell’s former employees at the Atlantic Women’s Medical Center. To varying degrees, each has expressed feeling misled by Gosnell, who regularly re-did ultrasounds when staff produced measurements indicating the baby had reached a gestational age greater than 24 weeks.
“I thought I was learning,” declared Steve Massof, who passed medical school in Grenada but never obtained a doctor’s license, yet found a home inside Gosnell’s clinic at 3801 Lancaster Avenue. “I mean, who else would you follow around but the doctor who has been practicing family medicine for more than 30 years?”
Massof further stated that he thought his time in Gosnell’s clinic would fulfill his residency requirement, so he took the low-paying job in an urban clinic for just $300 per week. Only later did he find out that Gosnell’s clinic was not accredited.
Massof has himself already pleaded guilty to first-degree homicide, admitting to having killed babies born live and viable during botched abortion procedures.
Other staff have proven more sympathetic, including a parade of female staff, without medical degrees, who all questioned Gosnell at some point about his method of stabbing babies in the neck with surgical scissors, then “snipping” their spinal cords to separate brain from body.
“It’s standard procedure,” he told them.
Linda Williams, who had once been perhaps his most loyal staffer, told jurors last week, “If I had known then what I know now, I would never have worked for him. I would rather have lived in a box on the street.”
Almost half of the prosecution’s non-expert witnesses have cried, at least a little, on the stand.
Staffers Earned $20 Cash Bonuses for Second-Trimester Abortions
Gosnell seemingly built an empire off performing late-term abortions and operating a kind of “pill mill” out of the West Philadelphia clinic. Prosecutors allege he was making $1.8 million per year from his operation, and also claim that he owned multiple properties, including houses and apartment buildings in West Philly, Delaware and Brigantine, New Jersey.
His staff, meanwhile, seemed to be operating on the margins of life, doing what they could to support their families, working for Gosnell for maybe $10 an hour, with $20 cash bonuses thrown in for every second-trimester abortion that occurred on their shift. Their clientele, in turn, were usually poor, and turning to the abortionist because they didn’t feel they could afford to take care of a baby. And they all took refuge in euphemistic language. One former employee, Sherry West, said she referred to the babies she saw, both dead and alive, as “specimens” because the word “made it easier to deal with.”
Williams, in a written statement she provided to law enforcement authorities, expressed her desire to “help people” in Gosnell’s clinic, and described the clientele as people who could not “financially afford to take care of their fetus.”
The word “baby,” for employees and customers at the Atlantic Women’s Medical Center was often avoided.