US doctor accused of killing babies with scissors

An abortion doctor in America is facing multiple murder charges amid accusations that he killed seven newborn babies by severing their spinal cords using a pair of scissors.

Abortion was made legal in America in 1973 through judicial activism when the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Roe v Wade. It is the 38th anniversary of the ruling on 22 January.

Dr Kermit Gosnell is believed to have made millions of dollars by performing illegal later term abortions at his clinic in Philadelphia.

Prosecutors allege that Dr Gosnell induced the births of the babies during the sixth, seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, and then severed their spinal cords.


The gruesome case first emerged last year when officials went to investigate drug related complaints at Dr Gosnell’s clinic only to discover what prosecutors have described as a “house of horrors”.

Commenting on the discovery District Attorney Seth Williams said: “A search of the office last year by authorities found bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses scattered throughout the building.

“Jars containing the severed feet of babies lined a shelf. Furniture and equipment was blood-stained, dusty and broken.”

Cold steel

He described one infant’s death, saying: “The baby had been born and was on a cold steel table and murdered by using — there’s no medical basis for snipping or taking scissors and putting them into the neck and cutting, severing the spinal cord. It’s just homicide. It’s just murder”.

Dr Gosnell and several of his employees were arrested earlier this week following a year-long investigation by a Philadelphia grand jury, whose report was released on Wednesday.

The 260 page report said: “Although no one could place an exact number on the instances, Gosnell’s staff testified that killing large, late-term babies who had been observed breathing and moving was a regular occurrence.”


The 69-year-old doctor is also being charged in connection with the death of a 41-year-old mother who died after being given an overdose of anaesthetic.

Mr Williams added: “A doctor who knowingly and systematically mistreats female patients, to the point that one of them dies in his so-called care, commits murder under the law.

“A doctor who cuts into the necks severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies, who would survive with proper medical attention, is committing murder under the law.”


Abortions are legal up to 24 weeks gestation in the state of Pennsylvania, but most doctors won’t perform them after 20 weeks.

Press reports indicate that Dr Gosnell charged $325 (£200) for early abortions and between $1,600-3,000 (£1,000 -1,900) for abortion up to the age of 30 weeks.

Last April a baby boy in Italy was discovered to have survived for two days after a botched abortion at 22 weeks.


Press reports claimed the mother chose to abort the baby after a prenatal scan showed he had a cleft lip and palate.

He was wrapped in a sheet and left to die by staff at the Rossano Calabro hospital in Italy, but the day after the abortion the baby boy, who still had his umbilical cord attached, was discovered moving and breathing by a Roman Catholic priest.

The baby was rushed to another nearby hospital, where he died the following day.

Related Resources