Victim’s daughter offers emotional testimony in trial of abortion doctor
By Sarah Hoye, CNN
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) — When Yashodo Gurung left her mother’s side at a West Philadelphia abortion clinic, she thought the 41-year-old woman was napping while she awaited her medical procedure.
But now, as testimony Tuesday in the trial of the clinic’s doctor indicated, Gurung wonders if maybe her mother was in fact dead when Gurung was asked by a staffer at the Women’s Medical Society to return to the waiting room at the front of the clinic.
“I thought she was peaceful and sleeping,” the a 26-year-old Bhutanese refugee said through a translator, wiping her eyes with a tissue.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell faces eight counts of murder in the deaths of seven babies and that of Gurung’s mother, Karnamaya Mongar, of Virginia, who died of an anesthetic overdose during a second-trimester abortion.
Authorities accuse Gosnell, 72, of using scissors to sever the spinal cords of fetuses who emerged from their mothers still alive.
He has pleaded not guilty. His defense attorney, Jack McMahon, has maintained that none of the infants was killed; rather, they were already deceased as a result of Gosnell previously administering an abortion drug.
Mongar died November 19, 2009, after overdosing on anesthetics prescribed by the doctor, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said following the arrest of Gosnell and before a gag order was put in place preventing attorneys and now jurors from speaking to the media. Williams called the facility “a house of horrors” that performed “botched and illegal abortions” and that was full of containers of fetuses’ body parts.
Born in Bhutan, Mongar spent 18 years living in a bamboo hut in a Nepalese refugee camp before coming to the United States in July 2009 as part of a humanitarian resettlement program, the family’s attorney, Bernard Smalley, told CNN in 2011 following the release of the grand jury report. The mother of three and grandmother of one was 19 weeks into her pregnancy when she went to Gosnell’s practice.
Gurung testified that while she waited with her mother for several hours, she saw her mother given multiple doses of medicine in pill form. Gurung also saw her mother receive additional medication intravenously through an IV line inserted in Mongar’s hand.
Mongar’s brother, Damber Ghalley, who speaks English, also testified Tuesday. Ghalley told jurors he took Mongar to Gosnell’s practice two days in a row.
After hours inside the clinic during the second visit, Ghalley was waiting outside in his car when things turned chaotic as an ambulance and firefighters arrived on the scene, he said.
“I knew something was wrong when I saw the ambulance,” Ghalley testified, adding that firefighters had to use bolt cutters to open a padlocked emergency exit just to get Mongar out of the clinic on a stretcher.
Ghalley said he saw Gosnell standing inside the doorway asked him what was happening.
“He (Gosnell) said the procedure was done but ‘Your sister’s heart stopped,’” Ghalley said.
Jurors also heard from Gosnell’s former maintenance man, Jimmy Johnson, who testified that his duties included removing the biohazard waste from the exam rooms. Johnson said that the toilets inside the clinic would be “stopped up” at least twice a week.
“When I plunged it once, particles came up,” Johnson said.
“What kind of particles,” assistant district attorney Edward Cameron asked.
“An arm came up,” Johnson replied.
Also on trial is Eileen O’Neill, 56, a medical school graduate who worked as a doctor at Gosnell’s clinic. O’Neill, who did not have a medical license, is charged with participating in the operation of a “corrupt organization.”
If found guilty, Gosnell could be sentenced to death.