A medical assistant told a court on Tuesday that she cut the spines of at least 10 babies while working at a late-term abortion clinic in Philadelphia.
Adrienne Moton testified as part of her guilty plea to third-degree murder. Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the owner of the clinic, is on trial for murder after the deaths of a patient and seven babies.
He is accused of killing late-term, viable babies after they were delivered alive.
Gosnell’s lawyer said he is not guilty of murder because the babies were not born alive. He is also challenging the gestational age of the fetuses and is calling them inexact estimates.
Moton was the first of several employees to testify. She cried as she remembered taking a cell phone picture of a baby left in her work station. She said the baby probably could have survived, as it was large and was a pinkish color. She said he was nearly 30 weeks along.
“The aunt felt it was just best for her [the mother’s] future,” Moton said.
The photo of the baby was shown to jurors on a large screen.
Dr. Gosnell later joked that the baby was so big that he could have walked to a bus stop.
Moton, 35, said she first met Gosnell through his niece and a school friend. She soon moved in with Gosnell and his wife during high school because she had family problems.
Moton said Gosnell terminated two of her own pregnancies before she started volunteering at his clinic in 2005.
At first she was only sterilizing equipment, but soon she was told to administer anesthesia, assist in abortions and perform the doctor’s method of “snipping” spinal cords of fetuses. Moton had no college education or medical training.
“I learned it from Dr. Gosnell,” she said. “I never asked why.”
Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron asked, “Can you say how many you did?”
“I could remember a good 10 times that I did it,” she said.
She made $10 an hour, and she and other workers were paid $20 bonuses for performing second-term abortions on Saturdays. Sometimes, half a dozen abortions were performed on the weekend.
She said she once killed a baby delivered in a toilet by cutting its neck with scissors. She said at first, she didn’t know it was wrong.
In Pennsylvania, abortions cannot legally be performed after week 24 of pregnancy.
Moton is pleading guilty to third-degree murder and faces up to 40 years in jail.
Most of Gosnell’s employees are expected to testify.