Former Gosnell employee offers disturbing testimony

Kermit Gosnell trained Adrienne Moton to do ultrasounds though she had only a high school diploma.
Kermit Gosnell trained Adrienne Moton to do ultrasounds though she had only a high school diploma. (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: March 21, 2013

A former employee and patient who got abortions from Dr. Kermit Gosnell gave a Philadelphia jury Tuesday a graphic and sometimes grisly inside view of his West Philadelphia clinic.

Adrienne Moton, 35, told the jury how she obtained two abortions from Gosnell as a teenager. She said she also lived with his family for a time before becoming a volunteer and then employee at Gosnell's Women's Medical Society.

Though she had only a high school diploma, Moton described how Gosnell trained her to do ultrasound exams of patients, administer pre-surgical sedation, and assist in illegal late-term abortions.

She said she worked for Gosnell for $8 to $10 an hour from 2005 to 2008 until the sight of one dead boy was too much to bear.

"I see this big baby boy laying there," Moton testified, her voiced choked with tears. "He had that color of a baby. I didn't feel as though he had a chance."

Moton's cellphone photo of the bloodied body of the newborn prosecutors call "Baby Boy A" was projected on large screens around the courtroom.

Later, the Common Pleas Court jury heard equally graphic testimony from the woman identified as the 17-year-old high school student who went to Gosnell on July 12, 2008, to abort that pregnancy.

Shayquana Abrams, now 21, testified about the abortion procedure that began in a Wilmington clinic where Gosnell worked, and ended three days later in his own clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave.

After the abortion, Abrams testified, she was so ill and in such pain that her aunt took her to a hospital. Abrams said she was diagnosed with a "grapefruit-sized abscess" on her side and a blood clot in the vein near her heart.

"It was the worst pain I ever experienced, worse than when I gave birth to my daughter," Abrams told Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore.

Abrams, who had a 9-month-old daughter at the time of the abortion, and now also has a son, 2, said she spent two weeks in Crozer Medical Center and was under a hematologist's care for two years.

Abrams said she thought she was 16 weeks pregnant when she went for the abortion and her aunt, with whom she lived, was told by Gosnell that she was 24 weeks pregnant. Moton testified that Abrams' medical records showed she was 29.4 weeks - nearly seven months.

Abortion is legal in Pennsylvania through the 24th week of pregnancy and, in 2008, was legal through the 20th week in the state of Delaware.

Both women testified before a panoply of medical equipment, furniture, and paintings removed from one of Gosnell's procedure rooms and rearranged in the well of the courtroom.

Some jurors, entering court after a break in which the equipment was set up, seemed stunned at the sight. One man's mouth opened wide; some others seemed to try to avoid looking at it.

Gosnell, 72, is charged with seven counts of first-degree murder - newborns whose spines he snipped with scissors after late-term abortions. He faces the death penalty if the jury finds him guilty.

Also on trial is Eileen O'Neill, 52, of Phoenixville, an unlicensed medical school graduate who worked as a clinic doctor. She is not charged with performing abortions.

Moton testified as part of a guilty-plea deal with prosecutors. One of nine employees arrested with Gosnell, Moton had been charged with first-degree murder, but the charge was reduced to third-degree murder as part of the plea deal.

Moton, who is in custody awaiting sentencing, faces 60 to 120 years in prison, said Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron. Her actual sentence will be less because of her cooperation.

Moton, formerly of Upper Darby, said that during the three years she worked for Gosnell, she "couldn't give you a number" for how many times Gosnell used his "snipping" technique on infants born live during abortions.

Moton said she first met Gosnell through his niece, a school classmate. When she had trouble at home, Moton testified, Gosnell and his wife, Pearl, invited her to live with them.

Eventually, Moton said, they helped her obtain two abortions, and she began working at the clinic sterilizing medical instruments.

But soon Gosnell, whom she called "Uncle," taught her to perform ultrasounds, administer anesthesia, and help in abortions, including "snipping."

"I learned it from Dr. Gosnell," Moton said. "I never asked why."

"Can you say how many you did?" Cameron asked.

"I could remember a good 10 times that I did it," Moton replied, voice trembling.

In questioning Moton, Gosnell's attorney, Jack McMahon, focused on the two abortions Gosnell performed on her without incident and the fact that he had many "repeat customers."

Moton agreed.

Cameron picked up on that when he resumed questioning: "Would you now go back and have a procedure now that you've seen how the work was done?"

"No," Moton said.


Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, jslobodzian@phillynews.com, or @joeslobo on Twitter.

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