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Kermit Gosnell Enters 5th Week of Murder Trial

By Maryclaire Dale

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia’s chief medical examiner told jurors he could not be sure if any babies were born alive at a now-shuttered abortion clinic run by a doctor accused of murder.

Dr. Sam Gulino examined 47 fetuses recovered from a clinic run by Dr. Kermit Gosnell after a 2010 FBI raid. Gosnell is charged with killing a patient and seven babies allegedly born alive.

However, Gulino said many of the bodies had been stored in a freezer, complicating his examinations because some fetal tissue degraded as it thawed.

Prosecutors maintain that Gosnell or his untrained staff killed at least seven babies after they had been born alive. Gosnell’s defense lawyer has denied the charge, attributing any movement seen by staff to involuntary responses.

Earlier in the day, another city abortion provider testified, and drew stark comparisons between his work and Gosnell’s.

Gosnell, 72, is also accused of performing illegal, late-term abortions and running a dangerously outdated clinic staffed by untrained workers.

Dr. Charles Benjamin said he performs abortions after 17 weeks gestation in a hospital – unlike Gosnell, who performed about 1,000 abortions a year at his clinics in West Philadelphia and Delaware.
Benjamin, by his own count, has performed 40,000 abortions over a 30-year career and testified as a prosecution expert. He is one of about four abortion providers left in Philadelphia in the wake of Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s arrest two years ago. Benjamin said he doesn’t do abortions after 21 weeks gestation, or three weeks shy of the 24-week limit in Pennsylvania.

He said that he has registered nurses on staff to monitor patients, and that only he or a nurse anesthetist give anesthesia, unlike Gosnell’s clinic, where workers hired to clean instruments have testified that Gosnell trained them to administer potent intravenous drugs.

On cross-examination, Benjamin acknowledged that his practice once had an abortion patient die of sepsis, although he said the woman was his partner’s patient.

He also conceded that first-trimester patients have the choice to be lightly sedated or only given local anesthesia. Defense lawyer Jack McMahon was trying to counter attacks by prosecutors that Gosnell let patients pick their anesthesia based on how much they could pay.

The trial is now in its fifth week, and could last another month.

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