Dead or Alive: Gosnell Defense Floats Theory That Babies were Dead When Necks Were Snipped

Philadelphia, PA – Yesterday, the primary defense theory in the Kermit Gosnell murder case was explored by defense attorney Jack McMahon, who posits that all the babies aborted at Gosnell’s clinic were already dead when their spinal cords were “snipped” to ensure “fetal demise.”

McMahon pressed former Gosnell employee Lynda Williams concerning her duties at Gosnell’s ‘House of Horrors” abortion clinic that included cleaning up and disposing of babies born after late-term abortions, many of which were beyond the legal gestational limit of 24 weeks.

Williams had previously testified of a baby that was delivered into a toilet at the clinic in Gosnell’s absence. She told the court that when she saw the baby moving, she picked him up and stabbed the back of his neck with surgical scissors as Gosnell had taught her to do.

Later, Williams said that Gosnell reassured her that the baby was dead already and that any movement was “involuntary movement, a last breath.” He told her drugs given to the woman earlier had already
killed the baby.

“If a baby moves, it’s alive.”

A neonatologist that testified before the Grand Jury said that what Gosnell told his people was absolutely false.

“If a baby moves, it is alive. Equally troubling, it feels a ‘tremendous amount of pain’ when its spinal cord is severed,” said the report.

The drug Gosnell claims to have used was Digoxin, a medicine once widely used to treat heart attacks. Late-term abortionists routinely inject Digoxin into the fetus or the amniotic fluid around the growing baby to induce the equivalent of a heart attack, paralyzing the heart muscle and killing the baby.

Babies Known to Survive Digoxin Injection

McMahon stated previously in court that babies never survive Digoxin injections. However, Operation Rescue has documentation McMahon’s assumptions are simply not true.

In fact, literature on the subject of the efficacy of Digoxin injections to accomplish “fetal demise” indicate that the injections fail about 13% of the time even under the best circumstances, and if the drug is injected into the amniotic sac instead of the fetus, the failure rate on the first try can be as astronomically high as 70 percent.

One example of the failure of Digoxin to kill a baby on the first effort is the abortion of Michelle Armesto (Berge)’s 24 weeks 5 days. Armesto testified before a Kansas Legislative Hearing about her abortion in 2003 at Women’s Health Care Services in Wichita, Kansas. She provided Operation Rescue with a copy of her abortion records which clearly indicate that the Digoxin injection had to be redone on Day 2 of her procedure after fetal heart tones were detected.

Another well documented example of digoxin survival is that of “Baby Rowan” who was aborted at 22 weeks at James S. Pendergraft’s EPOC Center in Orlando, Florida in 2005. Pendergraft has publicly discussed his use of Digoxin in late-term abortions. However, when Rowan’s mother delivered him in a toilet inside the clinic, she noticed that he was moving and gasping for breath. A friend called 911 to obtain help when clinic workers ignored the mother’s pleas, then turned away emergency responders away when they arrived. Baby Rowan died of extreme prematurity in his mother’s arms. The film “22 Weeks” is based on this tragic incident.

Expert Testimony Refutes Defense Theory

An earlier witness in Gosnell’s trial, Dr. Karen Feisullin, a practicing ObGyn at a major metropolitan hospital, testified that Digoxin injections are done prior to the insertion of laminaria sticks, which slowly expand and dilate the cervix. She said it can take up to 24 hours for Digoxin to actually kill a pre-born baby, depending where the injection is made.

Feisullin also testified that there would be no medical reason to snip the spinal cords of babies after they had been aborted, and certainly no known reason to sever their feet and keep them in jars of formaldehyde, as Gosnell did.

Previous testimony is devastating to the prosecutions claims that every baby had been injected with Digoxin, including that of the medical examiner told the court under oath that there was no evidence of puncture in any of the fetuses he examined that had been seized from Gosnell’s clinic. A toxicologist further testified that there was no trace of Digoxin in any of the toxicology screenings done on the fetal remains.

Fetus or Newborn?

Williams and others testified that the snipping of spinal cords was to “ensure fetal demise” as if this gruesome technique was used as an insurance policy to make sure the baby was actually dead. Yet all the “snippings” took place after the babies were born. At that point, they are no longer “fetuses” but are considered newborn babies. The killing of newborns legally qualifies as murder.

Photos shown in court last week of babies’ remains that were seized from Gosnell’s clinic all bore a gaping wound in the back of the neck.

“At Gosnell’s abortion mill, the lines of legal conduct were blurred and the boundaries of ethical conduct seemed non-existent,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “Once a baby is birthed, it is impossible to ‘ensure fetal demise.’ Gosnell relied on undereducated, inexperienced workers who would fall for his semantics. Legitimate medical professionals would have turned him in years earlier.”

Patient Testifies

Also testifying yesterday was Chanice Mannings, 20, who tearfully told the court of her late-term abortion experience with Gosnell when she was just 15-years old. Mannings said she did not remember any injection prior to the insertion of the laminaria at the beginning of her late-term abortion.

The medical examiner previously testified that Baby Mannings was 29-weeks gestation at the time of death and contained no puncture wounds, bolstering the prosecution’s case that Gosnell never gave the injections and falsified medical records when he noted that he did.

Similarities to Another Abortion Murder Case

Misrepresenting the use of Digoxin injections is not unique to Gosnell. Steven Chase Brigham was suspended from practicing medicine after authorities discovered that he was operating an illegal bi-state abortion clinic in Maryland very similar to Gosnell’s operation in Philadelphia. Brigham would begin the late-term abortions in New Jersey, then finish them at a secret abortion clinic in Elkton, Maryland. Medical records from Patient D.B., who nearly died from a botched late-term abortion, contained a form titled Laminaria Insertion & Induction of Fetal Demise, which was produced at Brigham’s Voorhees, New Jersey, facility on August 12, 2010, the day before D.B. botched surgery in Maryland. On that form, Brigham documents a pelvic exam and laminaria insertion, but the section of the form that is supposed to document an injection into the baby that would bring about fetal demise is left blank. Like Gosnell, Brigham attempted to tell authorities he had injected the fetus with Digoxin, but records and evidence indicated that he never bothered.

Brigham was arrested and charged with murder in Maryland, however, the charges were dropped when the prosecution’s expert witness was pressured by the abortion lobby into withdrawing from the case.

“It seems extremely improbable that so many of Gosnell’s employees would plead guilty to murder if the babies were in fact dead. The weight of the medical examiner’s testimony and the toxicology results coupled with the overwhelming testimony from his own employees tips the scales against Gosnell. However, the trial has a long way to go and we expect that McMahon will attempt to pull a rabbit out of his hat before this is over,” said Newman.

Testimony for the prosecution’s case continues today. Operation Rescue will return to the courtroom next week to provide first-hand accounts from the trial.

Gosnell Trial Archives

  • Mental Illness Plagued Gosnell Employees Who ‘Snipped’ Baby’s Necks
  • Gosnell Witness Recants Guilty Plea, Still Testifies of Abortion Horrors
  • Gosnell Employee: ‘It would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place’
  • Gosnell Sister-in-Law Emotionally Testifies of Mongar Death, Disposal of Bloody Remains
  • Aborted Babies Dramatically Testify Against Gosnell at Murder Trial
  • Homicide Determination in Abortion Death Sparks Outburst, Anger at Gosnell Murder Trial
  • Fight Breaks Out At Gosnell Murder Trial
  • State Inspector’s Horrific Discoveries at Gosnell’s Abortion Clinic Described In Court
  • Prosecution Reconstructs Abortion Room in Court for Gosnell Murder Trial
  • Abortionist Gosnell Rejects Plea Deal, Jury Selection Underway in Capital Murder Case
  • Jury Selection to Begin in Murder Case of Abortionist that Snipped Newborn’s Spinal Cords
  • Documents

    Read the full Grand Jury Report
    View photos of Gosnell’s victims
    View the Gosnell gang’s mug shots and description of charges

    • Victress Jenkins

      Let’s hope that Gosnell’s defence attorney faces reality before the end of the trial. The state no doubt, took plenty of pictures for their investigation. The testimony of the employees ought to certainly put the guilty behind bars for a long time.

    • Margaret

      It bothers me that Operation Rescue uses the term “snipping” which was Gosnell’s term for severing the spinal cord of the baby. Somehow using that term seems to validate it as a legitimate procedure. It seems similar to the abortion proponents’ use of sterile language of “fetus” and “products of conception” and the like to distance itself from the truth. “Snip” doesn’t convey horror to me the way “sever” does.

    • Deb

      Abortion is legalized murder. The educated protectors of law and justice only need to look at these pictures. They don’t need all their degrees, titles and “educations” to clearly see that abortion is murder. It’s time all the “educated” leaders stand up and speak out about what is so obvious. Abortion is murder. Abortionists are murderers. The law we live under and those that maintain it, profess it and live by it are murderers. Those who remain silent and look the other way are accomplises to murder. The citizens that are pro-abortion are accomplises to murder also. We are all accountable if we know the truth and do nothing!

    • Diane Caldera

      Abortion is murder, but this cannot stop until a majority recognize contraception in general, and abortifacient contraception in particular, do the same to the least of little ones, those who are only a few cells old. Contraception deforms the couples’ concern to protect children of their sexual union, and abortifacient contraception obliterates the children themselves. The 1965 Griswold Supreme Court decision decriminalizing the sale of contraceptives was the first appearance of the “Right to Privacy” doctrine used in Roe v. Wade and other abortion decisions, and — correct me if I’m wrong — in the legalization of sodomy. So we can thank contraception for privatizing the right to murder inconvenient individuals and for the national “Let’s Redefine the Only Institution that Publicly Ties Children to their Biological Mother and Father” debate.

    • Diane Caldera

      Abortion is murder, but this cannot stop until a majority recognize contraception in general, and abortifacient contraception in particular, do the same to the least of little ones, those who are only a few cells old. Contraception deforms the couples’ concern to protect children of their sexual union, and abortifacient contraception obliterates the children themselves. The 1965 Griswold Supreme Court decision decriminalizing the sale of contraceptives was the first appearance of the “Right to Privacy” doctrine used in Roe v. Wade and other abortion decisions. So we can thank contraception for privatizing the right to murder inconvenient individuals

    • pamila santos

      Didn’t Planned Parenthood promise clean, safe clinics,or was that another political lie to get their agenda passed?

    • Chris

      Regardless of the horrid nature of this whole thing ,is the left leaning media that wouldn’t touch this with a 10 ft. Pole! Until now ! Thank God. It’s starting to come out . I myself have sent an email to anderson cooper in the form of ( cowards! all of you for not bringing this to the public. What are you afraid of ? Maybe having to possibly change your stance on this pro choice philosophy of yours etc etc.) please people be a voice . Blog ,speak out ,email senators .judges councilmen ,the president( huh! The president) I’m so afraid that when this trial is finished and he is found guilty! He will be found guilty! All of this will chill and fade into the dust