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Witness criticizes Pa. abortion clinic policy

PHILADELPHIA — A doctor testifying Thursday in the murder trial of a Philadelphia abortion provider called it ‘‘reprehensible’’ that he would let patients pick, as prosecutors ­allege, among ‘‘local,’’ “heavy,’’ “twilight,’’ or ‘‘custom’’ anesthesia based on how much they could pay.

Prosecutors say Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s untrained staff offered patients these choices and Gosnell did little to monitor ­patients afterward, failing to use oxygen machines, a pulse monitor, or other standard surgical equipment.

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‘‘All bets are off’’ without monitoring, said Dr. Andrew Herlich, an anesthesiologist and a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Gosnell, 72, is charged in the drug overdose death of a 41-year-old patient and the deaths of seven babies allegedly born alive at his West Philadelphia clinic. The death-penalty trial began Monday and is expected to last about two months. He has pleaded not guilty.

The woman, a recent immigrant, weighed only about 100 pounds and did not speak English. Hand-scrawled clinic notes show she received two heavy doses of sedatives and narcotics during a 2009 abortion, despite signs of respiratory distress ­after the first dose.

Herlich testified that the amount of drugs given to Karnamaya Mongar — at least as suggested by the nearly illegible clinic note — would likely put her in a coma .

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