A ghoulish cast of characters is emerging from testimony in the “House of Horrors” murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who owned and operated the Women’s Medical Society clinic in West Philadelphia, PA.
Steve Massof graduated from medical school in Grenada in the West Indies, but was not licensed to practice medicine. When Gosnell hired him, he was passed off as “Dr. Steve” to staff and patients alike. A sign inside the door read, “Dr. Steve Massof, Medical Intern.” After a brief stint shadowing Gosnell, he performed gynecological exams independently and prescribed medicine to patients using a pre-signed prescription pad Gosnell had given him. According to the grand jury report, he “treated medical patients for conditions including diabetes, asthma, pain, and infectious diseases; prescribed drugs; anesthetized abortion patients; performed ultrasounds; delivered babies; removed placentas; cut umbilical cords; and, in accordance with Gosnell’s practice, severed the spinal cords of the late second-trimester and the third-trimester babies that precipitated. “ In court, Massof testified that medicine would be delivered to speed up labor and delivery and it would become so chaotic, it would “rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.” He admits to “snipping” at least 100 babies’ spinal cords, describing the procedure as “literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body.”
Ashley Baldwin was 15 when she started working at the clinic. Her mother, Tina Baldwin, worked at the clinic and got her the job. Still in high school, she administered intravenous sedation drugs, performed ultrasounds, and assisted in patient deliveries in Gosnell’s absence, often working 50 or more hours per week. However, If the women seeking abortions were white, it was a different story. Then, “he [Gosnell] didn’t want me to (administer the drugs), because he wanted to meet with them himself,” she said. She was often the only staff member present in the evenings and would take care of the women as best as she could. She testified to seeing five babies breathe after being delivered; one baby even screamed. Gosnell once joked with her that a baby was “big enough to walk me around or walk me to the bus stop.” According to the grand jury report, Ashley took pictures of some of the babies. She is not being charged with any crime.
Adrienne Moton knew Gosnell through his niece. She had no medical training or license. Working evenings at the clinic, she administered drugs, performed ultrasounds, assisted with abortions and cut the spinal cords of aborted babies. During testimony, she broke down several times as she recounted taking a picture of a baby whose size and pinkish color made her think he could have survived. She lived with Gosnell and his wife from 2005 to 2008 and was paid $10 an hour, off the books, for her work there. She also received $20 bonuses for each second trimester abortion performed on Saturdays. She admitted killing a baby born alive in a toilet, cutting its neck with scissors. When asked if she knew what she did was wrong, she responded, “At first, I didn’t.”
Lynda Williams and Sherry West were two more unlicensed, unqualified employees of Gosnell’s. Not only that, but according to the grand jury testimony both were sloppy and unconcerned as well, routinely over medicating patients and failing to monitor them. Williams, who had an eighth grade education, had worked for Gosnell for 10 years at another abortion clinic in Delaware and had occasionally filled in from time to time at the Philadelphia clinic. In 2008, she was hired full time to clean instruments but was soon administering Cytotec (a labor-inducing agent) and IV drugs and dealing with babies born alive at the clinic in Gosnell’s absence. She testified that Gosnell taught her how to flip the baby over and snip its neck with scissors. Further, she said she once saw a baby’s arm jerk. She tried to explain her actions by saying, “I only do what I’m told to do… what I was told to do was snip their neck.” Sherry West was a longtime patient of Gosnell’s. She was hired at Women’s Medical Society when she lost her job at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center after contracting Hepatitis C. Despite the diagnosis, she never wore gloves treating patients and inserting IV’s. In court, West testified she heard an infant born alive after an abortion scream, describing it as sounding like “a little alien.” The child was 18-24 inches long – the length of a full-term baby – and was one of the biggest babies she had seen delivered at Women’s Medical Society. Describing a child delivered into a toilet as a “specimen,” she said she referred to the dead children that way because “it was easier to deal with mentally.” Both women routinely ignored medication charts and gave patients whatever they felt like giving them. It was Williams who administered the fatal overdose to Karamaya Mongar in November 2009.
As disturbing as this is, what is more distquieting is that Women’s Medical Society was never investigated. Shortly after Mongar’s death, Gosnell applied for admittance to the National Abortion Federation, which supposedly upholds the strictest health and legal standards for its members. While the evaluator rejected the application, noting that “records were not properly kept, that risks were not explained, that patients were not monitored, that equipment was not available, that anesthesia was misused,” she did not report the doctor to any authority, allowing him to continue butchering babies and harming women unabated and unfettered. Not that it would have made a difference if she had. A PA health department official had discovered what was taking place at the clinic when she visited as part of a citywide vaccination program. She filed detailed reports regarding the most egregious practices at the clinic, but the reports “went into a black hole.” Philadelphia Department of Health officials, who were supposed to protect public health, made regular trips to the clinic to collect blood samples, but never reported that anything was amiss. Ten years before Mongar’s death, a former employee of Gosnell’s presented evidence to the Board of Medicine that detailed the unsanitary equipment, the unlicensed workers, the underage abortion patients, and the unsupervised medicating of patients. The state investigator conducted an off-site interview with Gosnell, never visited the facility or interviewed anyone and dismissed the complaint as unfounded!
This leads to the lack of media coverage on this case. It was no accident that the state failed to act, just as it’s no accident the mainstream media has refused to cover this case. ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS, MSNBC and CNN have all ignored this case and will continue to do so. Fox News is the only major media outlet to cover this, but apologists there insist Gosnell is an outlier.
But in Delaware, a Planned Parenthood clinic that was closed after five botched abortions in 2013 is reported to have been so filthy that women treated there are at risk for AIDS and Hepatitis C. And in Birmingham, AL, the New Women, All Women abortion clinic is continuing to perform abortions, even though the clinic owner Diane Derzis is banned from operating the clinic and Dr. Bruce Norman is prohibited from performing abortions at the clinic by order of the health department. These cases are mere drops in the bucket.
As a society, America has closed its eyes to the horrors. Simply ignoring these atrocities makes it, in the words of Sherry West, “easier to deal with mentally.”