The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

May 15, 2013

Jurors: Pa. abortion doc got greedy, lost his way

(Continued)

According to prosecutors, he routinely performed abortions after the 20-week limit in Delaware, where he also worked, and the 24-week limit in Pennsylvania. And he did the late-term surgical procedures in his clinic, while they were more typically done in hospitals.

Gosnell by then was also attracting lawsuits from women who said they were injured during botched abortions at his clinic. One woman said he left fetal remains inside her, another sued over a perforated uterus, and a trial witness said she spent two weeks in a hospital with sepsis after an abortion at age 17 that allegedly took place when she was nearly 30 weeks pregnant. Stunned clinic workers took cellphone photos of that baby boy, photos that provided key evidence in the murder charge over "Baby A."

Workers testified that the West Philadelphia clinic deteriorated over the decade they worked there, as Gosnell cut costs by re-using disposable medical equipment that spread venereal disease, and relied on unlicensed doctors and untrained staff to perform skilled medical care. The jury found that contributed to the overdose death of a 41-year-old patient, who was sedated repeatedly by medical assistants.

"This is Philadelphia in the year 2013. This isn't some third-world country," Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said in opening statements in March.

But defense lawyer Jack McMahon countered: "Every time a doctor loses a patient, it isn't murder."

Meanwhile, lines of unsavory patients were lining up to get prescriptions from Gosnell for OxyContin and other frequently abused painkillers. That side of Gosnell's practice led to the 2010 clinic raid, when the FBI stumbled on abortion practices that would come to be termed "a house of horrors" in a 2011 grand jury report.

McMahon blanched at that description, saying prosecutors and the press have "lynched" his client by exaggerating the facts.

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