'Horror' abortion clinic trial to resume

2013-05-13 13:02
Dr Kermit Gosnell. (Philadelphia Daily News, Yong Kim/ AP)

Dr Kermit Gosnell. (Philadelphia Daily News, Yong Kim/ AP)

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Cape Town - A Philadelphia jury is expected back in court on Monday after breaking for the weekend amid deliberations in the capital murder case of abortion provider Dr Kermit Gosnell, who stands accused of, amongst other crimes, snipping the spinal cords of live babies.

The jury heard nearly two months of graphic testimony about conditions at the West Philadelphia clinic. Several employees have pleaded guilty to murder charges.

The jury had deliberated for nine days before the break and returns on Monday to weigh charges that the 72-year-old Gosnell killed a patient and four babies purportedly born alive.

Gosnell ran a busy neighbourhood medical clinic for 30 years, until an FBI raid shut it down in 2010.

According to reports, the so-called 'abortion mill' was discovered by accident after federal agents were tipped off that Gosnell might be fraudulently handing out prescriptions for powerful painkillers to addicts and drug dealers.

Gosnell is also charged with performing illegal, third-term abortions and failing to counsel women in the clinic where conditions have been described as extremely unhygienic.

Delivered into toilet

"The surgery rooms were compared by officials to a petrol station toilet, with surgical instruments often going uncleaned between operations," the Daily Mail said in its report.

The report said the babies were allegedly killed when they had been delivered alive after the usual procedure of injecting drugs into the mother failed to kill them in the womb. When they showed signs of life such as moving an arm, crying or breathing, he or his staff would snip their spinal cord at the back of the neck with surgical scissors, the trial heard.

Prosecutors said one of the babies was delivered into a toilet. A witness claimed that one baby who was also killed was up to 38cm long and made swimming motions in the water before its short life was ended.

The defence says Gosnell, whose patients were mostly poor black people, provided care to the needy and helped desperate women get abortions.

The jury is weighing about 260 counts, including the five murder counts.

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