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It was a scene the Philadelphia District Attorney called "a house of horrors." A warning to readers, some of the details in this story are gruesome.
West Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell is on trial for running an abortion clinic in which he allegedly killed babies who had survived illegal, late-term abortions, and where a woman allegedly died of a botched painkiller injection.
"The evidence is certainly compelling," said The Philadelphia Inquirer's Joseph Slobodzian. Slobodzian has been in the courtroom every day of the trial.
"There are any number of witnesses, most of them former employees of Dr. Gosnell's clinic, who say they saw late-term abortions being done, they saw fetuses, babies, that were moving, breathing after the procedure, and those babies were killed," said Slobodzian.
Gosnell is maintaining his innocence and says he was helping his community, despite the fact that his employees are coming out against him.
"Kermit Gosnell comes from a very well-established family in West Philadelphia," said Slobodzian, adding that Gosnell went to the University of Pennsylvania, transferred to Dickenson College for his Bachelor's degree, received his medical degree from Jefferson Medical School, and then came home to begin working in the community.
"He until these charges had what is considered a pretty good reputation in the community," said Slobodzian. "Then in 1979 opened his Women's Medical Society clinic at 38th and Lancaster ... and then sometime during the '70s he began doing abortions."
District Attorney Seth Williams described the clinic and Gosnell at length in the grand jury testimony.
"This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns. ... The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths," reads the grand jury report.
A National Abortion Federation official who visited Gosnell's office said, "It was the worst clinic she had ever seen," but she never told the authorities about it. Patients were regularly misled, according to a documentary on the Gosnell case, "3801 Lancaster."
"When I got pregnant again, I went to the clinic and I asked them, I said, 'Is it okay that I get another abortion?' 'Fine, fine.' They even, like, had this woman sit down with me and she told me women in Brazil have at least 21 abortions," said one of the patients of the clinic in the documentary. "After she had coached me into believing that that was the norm, I would say within the next 14 years, like within that time I had eight abortions. Eight."
The details about some of the late-term abortions performed at the clinic are shocking.
"It's pretty grim, it's pretty grim in the courtroom," said Slobodzian, speaking about his personal reaction to covering the trial, adding that each day he tries to cover the human emotion on display at the trial, as well as the facts and the information.
"But I have to tell you, I certainly don't hope I cover a trial like this again."
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The Lead with Jake Tapper draws not only on Tapper’s deep knowledge of politics and national issues, but also seeks to examine and advance stories across a wide range of topics that demonstrate his own curiosities and interests. Compelling headlines come from around the country and the globe, from politics to money, sports to popular culture, based on news drivers of the day.
The Lead with Jake Tapper airs weekdays at 4 p.m. ET.
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