PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A medical assistant told a jury Tuesday that she snipped the spines of at least 10 babies during unorthodox abortions at a West Philadelphia clinic. And she said Dr. Kermit Gosnell and another employee did the same to terminate pregnancies.
Adrienne Moton‘s testimony came in the capital murder trial of Gosnell, the clinic owner, who is on trial in the deaths of a patient and seven babies. Prosecutors accuse him of killing late-term, viable babies after they were delivered alive, in violation of state abortion laws.
Gosnell’s lawyer denies the murder charge and disputes that any babies were born alive. He also challenges the gestational age of the aborted fetuses, calling them inexact estimates.
Moton, the first employee to testify, sobbed as she recalled taking a cellphone photograph of one baby left in her work area. She thought he could have survived, given his size and pinkish color. She had measured him at nearly 30 weeks.
“The aunt felt it was just best for her (the mother’s) future,” Moton testified.
Gosnell later joked that the baby was so big he could have walked to the bus stop, she said.
Jurors saw Moton’s photograph on a large screen in the courtroom, which took on a bizarre look Tuesday as she testified near a hospital bed with stirrups and other aging obstetric equipment. Denied the chance to bring jurors to the shuttered inner-city clinic, prosecutors are instead recreating a patient room in court.
Moton, 35, sobbed as she described her work at the clinic. Because of problems at home, she had moved in with Gosnell and his third wife during high school, and she went to work for him from 2005 to 2008. She earned about $10 an hour, off the books, to administer drugs, perform sonograms, help with abortions and dispose of fetal remains. Workers got $20 bonuses for second-term abortions on Saturdays, when a half-dozen were sometimes performed.
She once had to kill a baby delivered in a toilet, cutting its neck with scissors, she said. Asked if she knew that was wrong, she said, “At first I didn’t.”