Philadelphia, PA (OperationRescue) — Kareema Cross worked for Kermit Gosnell for a harrowing four years, helping with abortion procedures amid conditions so bad that she snapped photos to document them in 2008 — a year before the death of Karnamaya Mongar — then reported her boss to the authorities under a fictitious name. But no one listened. Two years later, authorities raided Gosnell’s clinic thinking it was a pill mill only to discover that it was frightfully so much more.
Cross said her “training” consisted on observing one ultrasound procedure. After that she was on her own. When Cross got a measurement that was beyond 24 weeks, she would have one of the other women who were a little better at using the outdated ultrasound from the 1980′s to verify her findings. Gosnell wald always redo those ultrasounds, which would all suddenly measure precisely 24.5 weeks gestation, which Gosnell mistakenly thought was the legal limit in Pennsylvania. In fact, the legal limit was 23 weeks 6 days.
Cross described in detail her experiences at Gosnell’s clinic, which has come to be known as a “House of Horrors.” She testified that that at first she began just taking vital signs and working the front desk, duties that, as a medical assistant, she was qualified to do. But after about two weeks, Cross said she began doing ultrasounds, injecting drugs when Gosnell was not in the building, and assisting in the grungy, bloodstained procedure rooms.
While she worked for Gosnell, Cross testified that at least twice a day, six days a week, babies would “precipitate” or be birthed before Gosnell ever arrived. She said “Dr. Steve” – Steven Massof, an unlicensed medical school graduate with a goulish curiosity about abortions – would be there to snip the babies’ necks. She saw him do it around 50 times. When babies “precipitated” in Gosnell’s presence, he would do the diry deed himself.
Cross sometimes worked from 8:00 am until 3:00 the next morning helping with procedures. She routinely saw babies born alive, moving, breathing, and moaning.
Once in Gosnell’s absence, Cross saw a large baby delivered into the toilet. She saw his little arms and legs moving in a swimming motion as he struggled to get out of the toilet bowl. Cross held her hands 12-16 inches apart to demonstrate to the jury how big the baby was. Adrienne Moton, who was the first worker to testify for the prosecution, snipped the baby’s neck in front of the mother while she sat bleeding into the toilet. Moton then took the body away and put it into a container.
In 2009, Cross testified that another co-worker, Linda Williams, called Cross over to see a baby that had just been born. Cross saw the baby’s chest heaving up and down in steady breathing motions. Linda reached down and lifted the baby’s hand up, but the newborn pulled it away on its own strength. Cross said she saw the baby breathing for about 20 minutes before Williams murdered the child by severing its spinal cord with scissors. Cross demonstrated again with her hands that the baby was about a foot long.
Perhaps it is little wonder that when Williams testified earlier in the Gosnell proceedings, she appeared emotionless, staring blankly ahead in an almost catatonic fashion, taking uncomfortably long pauses before answering questions.
Also earlier in the trial, the subject of Digoxin use was discussed. It is the defense’s position that all babies aborted by Gosnell were already dead when they were birthed because Gosnell used Digoxin, a heart medication, to ensure fetal demise. The prosecution presented testimony from a medical examiner that there were no puncture wounds in the fetal remains he examined. A toxicologist testified that there was no trace of digoxin in any of the babies’ bodies.
Cross testified that she only saw Gosnell perform a digoxin injection twice. She assisted with the procedures by identifying the baby’s heart on ultrasound. Gosnell told her that Digoxin was meant to slow the baby’s heartbeat. When the women returned for the second day to complete the abortion, Cross would use the ultrasound to identify the heartbeat just moments before Gosnell finished the procedure. Gosnell would ask Cross if the heartbeat had slowed. Cross testified that she would always tell Gosnell it had, but told the court the their heartbeats actually remained normal. The Digoxin injections she saw that were given by Gosnell really did not work at all.
Cross remained composed as she testified of observing breathing babies on more than 10 occasions. Once, she heard a wimpering cry. Ashley Baldwin, the 15-year old high school student that also helped out with the procedures, was working in the big abortion room where the crying sound originated, and sought out Cross’ help. When Cross saw the baby, she simply left the room.
Pretty much everyone who worked for Gosnell administered medications without supervision, even though none were qualified to do so. Several of the ladies tried to follow the sedation charts when mixing and administering sedation, but Cross noticed that Williams and another woman, Sherry West, did not do so while mixing drugs or when giving them to women. On occasion, some who received injections from Williams and West complained to Cross that their injections were not done properly, showing her their swollen arms.
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Cross complained to Williams and West about the way they handled the drugs, but nothing changed. She discussed it with Gosnell, who noticed there were missing drugs and consulted the notoriously unreliable narcotics log book that the pair also did not bother to use properly. There was no indication that anything changed after Gosnell became aware of the dangerous situation.
Fed up with the conditions and the appalling way women were treated at Gosnell’s clinic, in 2008 Cross began to document the clinic’s horrific conditions with her personal camera. The full-color photos were shown to a darkened courtroom on the large viewing screen.
She photographed the blood-caked procedure table in the Monet room that had rips in the vinyl where the women lay during their abortions. That same table had been seized from Gosnell’s clinic and was present in the courtroom throughout the prosecution’s case. Some of what appeared to be rust was actually described as dried blood.
Another photo taken by Cross showed two shelves located above the same sink where Liz Hampton washed aborted baby remains down a drain to be ground up in the garbage disposal. Crammed and stacked onto the shelves were about 50 jars containing severed fetal feet floating in liquid. Another photo showed a harrowing close-up of Gosnell’s grisly collection.
There was a picture of an indescribably filthy stainless steel sink where used plastic speculums and currettes were supposedly washed for reuse. It was piled with dirty equipment and caked in a thick layer of grime.
Other photos depicted bloody stains and equipment that did not work, as well as Gosnell’s cat, sleeping on a chair. Cross testified that the cat freely wandered throughout the clinic, even into procedure rooms, and made a habit of relieving itself just about wherever it wanted.
One patient was particularly memorable to Cross. Her name was Shaquana Abrams. Cross knew she worked with a friend, and after Abram’s abortion, the two kept in touch. Abrams was far advanced into her pregnancy when she came to Gosnell for a two day procedure. No one ever told why she decided to end the life of her baby. Abrams had been heavily sedated. As she lay sleeping on that filthy, torn table in the Monet room, the biggest baby Cross had ever seen in her years with Gosnell “just came out.” Cross again indicated with her hands that the baby was 12-18 inches long.
Gosnell picked up the little boy and placed him in a plastic shoe box. The baby was so big that he didn’t actually fit. His arms and leg were splayed out and draping over the edges of the box. Suddenly, on his own accord, the baby drew in his arms and legs to fit himself in the box. Gosnell took the box over near the antiquated ultrasound machine and snipped the baby’s neck, but never suctioned the crainial contents, as he sometimes did after babies had completely entered the room.
His courtroom designation was Baby Boy A. The horrorific photo taken by Cross seemed to overwhelm the courtroom. His corpse was supposed to be taken to the freezer that night, but when Jimmy Johnson came in the next morning to “take out the trash,” which included removing the abortion remains from the procedure rooms, he found the large, dark-hair baby still lying in that box in the Monet room where it had been left. Jimmy complained about his gruesome discovery, then took the baby to the basement with the rest of the human remains.
Somewhere between 2007 and 2008, Cross became pregnant and decided to have a “procedure” but she just could not stand the thought of having it at the clinic where she worked. Instead, she had her abortion at a clinic on Appletree Street. When Gosnell found out that she had obtained an abortion elsewhere, he was not happy about it. “I just couldn’t do it there because he was my boss and it was filthy,” she testified. “I just couldn’t do it.”
In 2009, Cross again became pregnant. This time she decided to keep her baby. Again, Gosnell was not pleased. He confronted her and attempted to pressure her into an abortion. He wrote her letters to her continuing to question her decision. “How can you work here being pregnant?” he asked. He offered her a discount on her abortion.
Gosnell’s attitude toward her pregnancy offended Cross. Wasn’t it supposed to be her choice?
Sometimes Cross worked at the front desk where she would often observe Eileen O’Neill seeing patients when Gosnell was not present at the clinic. She testified that she sometimes fielded calls from insurance companies complaining about O’Neill billing for services. O’Neill had no medical license in Pennsylvania, and had allowed her temporary license in Delaware to lapse. Cross often saw O’Neill issue perscriptions on presigned perscription pads, just as Steven Massof did without Gosnell being present for consultation.
At one point, Assistant District Attorney Ed Cameron asked about why certain paperwork was not filled out. Cross replied, “Dr. Gosnell did not pay taxes.”
The two defense attorneys roared objections. After a sidebar discussion, Judge Jeffery Minehart instructed the jury to strike Cross’ answer from their memories and not consider it during deliberations.
It is more than likely the rest of Cross’ testimony will remain emblazoned in their minds in such a way that no judge’s order can ever erase.
The prosecution rested today. The defense is expected to start its case on Monday.