The US doctor at the centre of an abortion murder scandal regularly killed live babies and trained his staff to sever foetuses' spinal cords, according to a former employee.

Ashley Baldwin assisted doctor Kermit Gosnell, who is currently standing trial for the murder of a woman and seven infants at the Philadelphia Women's Medical Society Clinic. It is alleged that he killed a number of live babies using brutal and rudimentary surgical techniques.

Baldwin, who began working at the clinic aged just 15, told a court that most of the abortions took place at midnight, she personally saw five babies moving after they were aborted.

"They looked just like regular babies," she said, before claiming Gosnell told staff that moving was an involuntary response for the foetuses.

Baldwin also corroborated a previous testimony from another former employee, Lynda Williams, claiming that 72-year-old Gosnell trained his staff to cut the aborted babies at the neck to sever their spinal cord.

Williams had earlier told the court that Gosnell claimed snipping babies' spinal cords after their birth was "standard procedure" to bring about "fetal demise," Mail Online reported.

Williams described how Gosnell, her former employer, had taught her to turn a baby over before cutting its neck with a pair of scissors.

She said that she performed it only once as it gave her 'the creeps', adding that mothers were often given pain medication that did not work during procedures, and Gosnell would slap their legs if they squirmed.

"I only do what I'm told to do," she told the jury. "What I was told to do was snip their neck."

Unlicenced doctors

Baldwin's mother, Tina, also worked at the clinic and has told the court that Gosnell's co-defendant, doctor Eileen O'Neill, had no licence and fled the premises when they were raided by the FBI three years ago.

Tina Baldwin claimed O'Neill told her she fled because she was worred about not having a licence. However, despite carrying no official documentation, O'Neill routinely wrote prescriptions on a pad pre-signed by Gosnell.

Eight employees have already pleaded guilty to different charges in relation to the cases, and a testimony by a Pittsburgh medic on 4 April revealed gruesome details of the clinic's operation and condition.

Stephen Massof, 50, explained to the court how the spinal cords of live babies were cut by staff to ensure their "demise".

The trial resumes on Monday (15 April).