By Dave Andrusko
As grim as testimony in the murder trial of Kermit Gosnell had been prior to Thursday, it took a decidedly worse turn when Steve Masoff testified about his five years working at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society abortion clinic.
In 2011 Masoff, an unlicensed doctor, was one of nine Gosnell employees charged in connection with second- and third-trimester abortions. All but one pled guilty. (She is also on trial.)
Masoff had already admitted to delivering viable unborn babies alive and then slitting their spinal cords, prior to his testimony. Like Gosnell, he faced first degree murder charges but pled guilty to two counts of third degree murder in exchange for his testimony.
If you read the account of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Joseph A. Slobodzian—assuming you can get through it—you will have a far deeper and more disturbing understanding of what took place at Gosnell’s West Philadelphia abortion clinic.
Slobodzian writes that Masoff, 50,
“at times exhibited an almost ghoulish glee, smiling and giggling, as he described the abortions he did and infants whose spines he snipped with surgical scissors.
“’No babies would be born alive at 3801,’ Masoff said Gosnell told him.
“At one point Masoff asked jurors to feel the backs of their necks and he guided them to the spot where he would use scissors. Several jurors did.
“’It’s like a beheading,’ Masoff said.”
Masoff has already pleaded guilty in a separate case “to 30 counts of using Gosnell’s prescription pads for controlled narcotics that were sold on the streets,” Slobodzian writes. “Gosnell is to be tried there after the murder case is over.”
When joint federal and state authorities raided Gosnell’s abortion clinic in 2010 it had nothing to do with abortion. He was suspected of illegally selling drugs, particularly OxyContin.
Only then did they discover (according to the Grand Jury report) a “filthy, foul-smelling ‘house of horrors’ “ where hundreds of viable unborn babies were aborted alive and then allegedly murdered when (primarily Gosnell and Masoff) slit their spinal cords.
On cross-examination, Gosnell’s attorney, Jack McMahon, returned to one of his primary arguments: that Gosnell practiced “urban medicine” with the good of his poor clients his uppermost interest.
“I believe that Dr. Gosnell was honestly trying to help women and protect them from abuse and neglect,” Masoff said.
However, the Associated Press reporter observed that
“The statement came in questioning about why Gosnell kept fetal samples, including severed feet, in jars at the clinic.”
Massof also testified, “He always led me to believe he was a poor, struggling urban physician and surgeon,” he added. “I thought he was hurting financially.”
Prosecutors assert Gosnell made a million dollars a year off of illegal abortions and kept $250,000 in cash under his mattress
Finally, in response to questioning by the prosecution (according to the AP)
“Masoff estimated that he saw about 100 babies born alive and then ‘snipped’ with surgical scissors in the back of the neck, to ensure their ‘demise.’
“Gosnell, who had another clinic in Delaware, typically came in only at night for the final part of the procedure, leaving Masoff to monitor the pain-racked or highly sedated women.
“’I felt like a firemen in hell. I couldn’t put out all the fires,’ he testified.”
The trial will resume on Monday.
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