Whatever Gosnell has come to stand for outside Courtoom 304, the case unfolding inside offers a catalogue of atrocities that took place at the West Philadelphia Women’s Medical Society clinic where Gosnell worked. Worst are the sickening descriptions of Gosnell’s “snipping” technique, in which he allegedly severed the spines of babies that had been born during abortion procedures. Fetal remains apparently were stored in jugs and bags inside cabinets, the basement, even a freezer.
The alleged abuses also include untrained workers administering drugs to patients, furniture and blankets stained with blood and unsterilized instruments.
The evidence Monday included testimony from Sam P. Gulino, Philadelphia’s chief medical examiner, who described receiving scores of fetuses and baby parts to examine in 2010 after authorities raided Gosnell’s clinic.
Gulino described two jars filled with formaldehyde, one holding a left foot and the other a right foot, from the same 22-week fetus.
“It was really an unprecedented situation,” Gulino said. “It was the first time I had to deal with fetal remains that had been frozen. . . . All I could do was allow the remains to thaw so that I could examine them.”
“Jesus,” whispered a woman in the audience.
Altogether, Gulino said, he had received all or part of 47 fetuses, most of them aborted well into the second trimester. At least a couple, he determined, likely would have been viable outside the mother’s womb, though Gosnell’s attorney forced the doctor to acknowledge that there was no way to know for certain.
In the middle of the courtroom sat some of the aging, decrepit equipment from Gosnell’s clinic, including a broken defibrillator.
Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report.