Philadelphia abortion clinic worker testifies of snipping babies' necks
PHILADELPHIA — A woman who worked at an inner-city abortion clinic testified on Tuesday that snipping the necks of babies that patients might deliver before their abortions was “standard procedure.”
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, owner of the Women's Medical Society clinic in West Philadelphia, taught her how to flip a baby's body over and do the procedure, said Lynda Williams, 44, of Wilmington, Del. But one time when she followed his orders after a baby was delivered in a toilet at the clinic, she saw the child move.
“It jumped, the arm,” she said, showing the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury by raising her arm.
Williams told investigators she only snipped a neck the one time “because it gave me the creeps.”
“I only do what I'm told to do,” she said. “What I was told to do was snip their neck.”
Williams said she asked Gosnell about the movement. Gosnell told her it was an “involuntary response” and a “last breath” because the fetus was “already dead” from drugs that had been administered earlier.
“I never knew it was murder,” Williams told investigators and repeated to the jury.
Gosnell, 72, is charged with killing a woman patient and seven newborns at his clinic that catered to minorities, the poor and women with late-term pregnancies. He occasionally took notes during Tuesday's testimony but did not react. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
Much like former employee Sherry West of Bear, Del., who testified Monday in the trial that is in its fourth week and is expected to last until May, Williams initially said she could not remember key details, and prosecutors had to remind her of earlier statements to investigators.
When Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore initially asked Williams to describe what she saw when she cut the baby's neck, Williams responded with a blank stare and silence.
West, who has pleaded guilty to several charges in connection with this case, had testified Monday that a baby still alive after being aborted screamed one night amid other bodies of aborted fetuses kept on a shelf in the clinic.
She said the large baby's eyes and mouth were not yet completely formed, but it was still alive. Under the terms of her plea agreement, she must cooperate with prosecutors. She could receive up to 70 years in prison.
Gosnell has been charged with murder in the 2009 death of one of his abortion patients, Karnamaya Mongar.
Prosecutors contend that Mongar died because of an overdose of pain medication administered by Gosnell's staff.