Today from Philadelphia: Screeching of Children Recalled

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Under the headline “Gosnell Witness: I assisted in abortions while in high school,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports from the courtroom in the horrific Kermit Gosnell trial: 


Like a lot of high school sophomores, 15-year-old Ashley Baldwin found a job.

Baldwin, however, wasn’t working retail or fast-food. She was doing ultrasounds, administering intravenous medicine and, ultimately, assisting in abortions performed by West Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell.

Baldwin, now 22, and the mother of a two-year-old, today told a Philadelphia jury hearing Gosnell’s murder trial of her unusual hands-on medical apprenticeship.

She also told of seeing at least five aborted babies moving, breathing and, in one case, “screeching,” after procedures at Gosnells’ Women’s Medical Society clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave.

“They looked just like regular babies,” Baldwin said to Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore.

Baldwin said one baby she saw was so big that Gosnell joked that “this baby is going to walk me home.”

Gosnell, 72, is also charged with corrupting a minor involving Ashley Baldwin.

Like other Gosnell workers, Baldwin testified that Gosnell taught her the rudiments of using an ultrasound, administering IV medicine and some lab work. She said she was working legally because, as a doctor, he had “grandfathered her in.”

Starting out answering phones, Baldwin quickly moved up in the organization. By the time authorities raided the clinic in February 2010, Baldwin was going to school and working as much as 50 hours a week in the clinic, sometimes into the early morning.

Baldwin said she assisted Gosnell in abortions, applying pressure to the mother’s abdomen, handing the doctor instruments and equipment.

She said she also saw Gosnell use scissors to “snip” the neck of newborns who were moving after the procedure.

Gosnell is charged with seven counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of seven infants born alive during abortions and killed by cutting their spinal cords with scissors. If the jury finds him guilty, Gosnell could be sentenced to death.

The Gosnell trial, despite the shocking conditions and necessary ethical questions it exposes, is not getting much daily national media attention. Today, lead by Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, some House Republicans, including two medical doctors, took an hour on C-SPAN to do their part to bring attention to the lack of accountability Gosnell was able to operate under. As I pointed out on Twitter (@kathrynlopez) this afternoon as I livetweeted the House Special Orders hour, one of the media injustices of the recent past, was the insistence that Bob McDonnell in Virginia was trying to invasively keep women from abortions in Virginia. In truth, he was trying to provide the kind of protections to women in the state that Pennsylvania didn’t

Kirsten Powers writes in USA Today:


NBC-10 Philadelphia reported that, Stephen Massof, a former Gosnell worker, “described how he snipped the spinal cords of babies, calling it, ‘literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body.” One former worker, Adrienne Moton, testified that Gosnell taught her his “snipping” technique to use on infants born alive.

Massof, who, like other witnesses, has himself pleaded guilty to serious crimes, testified ”It would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.” Here is the headline the Associated Press put on a story about his testimony that he saw 100 babies born and then snipped: “Staffer describes chaos at PA abortion clinic.”

“Chaos” isn’t really the story here. Butchering babies that were already born and were older than the state’s 24-week limit for abortions is the story. There is a reason the late Democratic senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called this procedure infanticide.

Planned Parenthood recently claimed that the possibility of infants surviving late-term abortions was “highly unusual.” The Gosnell case suggests otherwise.

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