The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Nation & World

May 15, 2013

Pa. abortion doctor gets third life sentence

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia doctor was sentenced Wednesday to a third life term for killing an aborted baby that he described as so big it could "walk to the bus."

Dr. Kermit Gosnell was convicted this week of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies born alive at his rogue clinic, then stabbed with scissors. He was given two life sentences Tuesday in a deal with prosecutors that spared him a potential death sentence, and the third sentence was handed down Wednesday.

The sentences offer no chance at parole, meaning Gosnell, 72, will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The case has made Gosnell a flashpoint in the nation's bitter debate over legalized abortion.

Prosecutors argued that Gosnell savagely killed late-term babies born alive by severing their spines, and taught several staff members the technique. Nine former clinic workers were convicted in the case, and four others pleaded guilty to murder.

Despite the notoriety of the case, Gosnell has seemed oddly serene in court during the two-month trial, and apparently sees himself as a medical pioneer and tireless advocate for inner-city patients.

"I wanted to be an effective, positive force in the minority community," Gosnell told The Philadelphia Daily News in a 2010 interview, when he predicted he would be "vindicated" of the allegations in a harrowing grand jury report. He chose not to address the judge during Wednesday's sentencing.

But prosecutors said he grew increasingly reckless as he accumulated millions of dollars from his rogue clinic, which was described as a "pill mill" for addicts by day and an "abortion mill" by night.

The jury spent 10 days deliberating before finding that Gosnell had killed babies or had them killed. And the jury found him complicit in the death of the 41-year-old patient, a Virginia woman who was repeatedly sedated by his untrained medical assistants. He was also sentenced Wednesday to 2 ½ to five years in her death.

Gosnell was also convicted of hundreds of abortion law violations for performing illegal, third-term abortions or failing to counsel women and teens. Gosnell was acquitted in the deaths of four other infants.

Prosecutors have declined to comment on the verdict, citing a gag order that was expected to be lifted Wednesday when Gosnell's sentence is finalized.

Prosecutors had planned to seek the death penalty because Gosnell killed more than one person and his victims were especially vulnerable given their age. But Gosnell's own advanced age had made it unlikely he would ever be executed before his appeals ran out.

Gosnell's lawyer, Jack McMahon, said his client accepts the verdict and isn't sorry he went to trial. He said Gosnell gave up a somewhat better deal early on but wanted to air the issues in court and is satisfied that he did so.

"He wanted this case aired out in a courtroom and it got aired out in a courtroom in a fair way. And now he's accepting what will happen. He's an intelligent guy," said McMahon, who said Gosnell would now plead to federal drug charges that are still pending.

The sentencing deal, reached after hours of terse negotiations Tuesday, spares Gosnell's family the task of pleading for his life in court, McMahon said. Gosnell has six children, the youngest of them a teenager born to his third wife, who has also pleaded guilty in the case.

"He's a proud man. To bring his young family into court was something he did not want to do," McMahon said.

A 2011 grand jury investigation into Gosnell's alleged prescription drug trafficking led to the gruesome findings about his abortion clinic. During an FBI raid, authorities found 47 aborted fetuses stored in clinic freezers, jars of tiny severed feet, bloodstained furniture and dirty medical instruments, along with cats roaming the premises.

Prosecution experts said the Delaware teen carrying Baby A, whose death Gosnell was sentenced in Wednesday, was nearly 30 weeks pregnant when Gosnell aborted her fetus. A second baby was said to be alive for about 20 minutes before a clinic worker snipped the neck. A third was born in a toilet and was moving before another clinic employee severed the spinal cord, according to testimony.

A fourth baby let out a whimper before Gosnell cut the neck, prosecutors alleged. Gosnell was acquitted in that baby's death, the only one of the four in which no one testified to seeing the baby killed.

McMahon has argued that none of the fetuses was born alive and that any movements were posthumous twitching or spasms.

 

1
Text Only
Nation & World
  • news_skoreaferry.jpg Fears rise for missing in South Korea ferry sinking

    Fears rose Thursday for the fate of 289 passengers still missing more than 24 hours after their ferry flipped onto its side and filled with water off the southern coast of South Korea.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_ukraineprotests.jpg Pro-Russian gunmen make inroads in eastern Ukraine

    The well-armed, Moscow-backed insurgency sowing chaos in eastern Ukraine scored a new victory Wednesday, seizing armored vehicles and weapons from underequipped government forces, then rolling through two cities to a hero’s welcome.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_detroitsunset.jpg Detroit still needs $350M from state lawmakers

    Pressure was building Wednesday for Michigan lawmakers to commit $350 million to Detroit pensions, a day after the city reached tentative agreements with pension funds and a retiree group to reduce payouts.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_malaysiaplanesearch.jpg Sub makes second dive to search for Malaysian plane

    As a robotic submarine dived into the ocean to look for lost Flight 370, angry Chinese relatives stormed out of a teleconference meeting Wednesday to protest the Malaysian government for not addressing them in person.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3 APTOPIX Police Conver_Unde-1.jpg Feds: Boston bombing suspect not entitled to '11 murder file

    Federal prosecutors have told a judge they have no evidence that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev knew about his brother's alleged role in a triple slaying in Waltham two years before the bombings.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boston police safely blow up suspicious backpacks

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city's resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014

  • 292 missing, 4 dead in South Korea ferry disaster

    A ferry carrying 459 people, mostly high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea's southern coast on Wednesday, leaving nearly 300 people missing despite a frantic, hours-long rescue by dozens of ships and helicopters. At least four people were confirmed dead and 55 injured.

    April 16, 2014

  • GM sales eyed for impact of ignition switch recall

    As General Motors shows off its newest cars and trucks in New York this week, analysts are watching for signs that consumers are shying away from the ones sitting on dealer lots.

    April 15, 2014

  • Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

    Survivors, first responders and family members of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over Boston's resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 15, 2014

  • First women move to Army platoon artillery jobs

     Under a canopy of trees on the edge of a large field, soldiers from Bravo Battery are lying in a circle as they pore over targeting charts. Nearby, others are preparing the howitzer cannons as helicopters swoop overhead. At the edge of the circle, the platoon leader watches as the field artillerymen go through their training exercise.

    April 15, 2014

More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium