A doctor whose abortion clinic was described as a filthy, foul-smelling "house of horrors" has been accused of delivering seven babies alive and then using scissors to kill them.

In a grand jury report, prosecutors said Pennsylvania regulators ignored complaints of barbaric conditions at Dr Kermit Gosnell's clinic, which catered to poor, immigrant and ethnic minority women in an impoverished suburb of Philadelphia.

Dr Gosnell, 69, was charged with eight counts of murder in the alleged killings of seven babies and the death of a woman from an overdose of painkillers. Nine of his employees, including his wife, were also charged.

Prosecutors said Dr Gosnell made millions over three decades performing thousands of dangerous abortions, many of them illegal late-term procedures. His clinic had no trained nurses or medical staff other than Dr Gosnell, a family doctor not certified in obstetrics or gynaecology, prosecutors said.

Authorities raided Dr Gosnell's clinic early last year in search of drug violations and stumbled upon "a house of horrors," the district attorney said. Bags and bottles holding aborted foetuses "were scattered throughout the building", he added. "There were jars lining shelves, with severed feet that he kept for no medical purpose."

At least two women died from the procedures, while scores more suffered perforated bowels, cervixes and uteruses, authorities said.