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Gosnell receives three life sentences in abortion case
Philadelphia prosecutors said Wednesday that abortionist Kermit B. Gosnell would receive a third life sentence for the murder of a baby and other crimes he was not previously sentenced for.
The decision in the "groundbreaking" case means Gosnell will spend his life in prison, without the possibility of parole.
"I will not mince words: Kermit Gosnell is a monster," Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said Wednesday. "Any doctor who cuts into the necks, severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies who would survive with proper medical attention, is a murderer and a monster."
The 72-year-old abortionist also was sentenced to 2½ to 5 years in prison for the 2009 overdose death of one of his patients.
Gosnell was convicted Monday of three counts of first-degree murder of three infants, as well as the manslaughter of Karnamaya Mongar. On Tuesday, Gosnell agreed not to appeal the verdicts in exchange for not having to face the death penalty. The sentences are also punishment for 229 violations of Pennsylvania abortion regulations.
Mr. Williams said that it was his office's "highest priority" that these important verdicts be protected.
"This doctor's illegal, purposeful actions against the smallest and most vulnerable human beings born alive were properly called murder by our citizens, and we have acted to seal and preserve those verdicts for all time," the district attorney said.
Co-defendant Eileen O'Neill was also found guilty of conspiracy and theft charges. She will be sentenced July 15.
Eight other people who worked in the Women's Medical Society clinic, including Gosnell's third wife Pearl, had pleaded guilty; seven are awaiting sentencing, including four who pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, either in Mongar's death or the killing of born-alive infants.
On Wednesday, Gosnell's defense attorney, Jack McMahon, told reporters outside the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center that "this case is over." Gosnell "has resigned and accepted his fate," he said.
Mr. McMahon said he believes his client chose the deal to avoid having his family take part in the penalty proceedings — Gosnell has six children — but that he doesn't agree that he committed murder. "He believes he never killed a live baby," the defense attorney said.
Some jurors agreed to speak to reporters after the decisions were announced.
Gosnell "is an abortion doctor who tried to help people" who didn't have money, but "something went wrong in his mind," said a female juror. "Seeing those photos" convinced her "that kind of evil exists in this world," she said, referring to large photos of babies shown with holes in the backs of their necks. Prosecutors said Gosnell killed the infants by slitting their necks with surgical scissors and "snipping" their spinal cords.
The jury found him guilty of murdering "Baby A," "Baby C," and "Baby D."
The jury was briefly hung on "Baby C" because they couldn't decide if the infant's movement before being killed was "a twitch or indicative of life," added the female juror. The jury eventually decided "if there was movement, then baby was born alive," a male juror said.
Asked about their assessment of Gosnell, the male juror said that for most of them, "it came down to a greed factor" — Gosnell would come in, give a service and get paid, "and eventually it became a money-generating machine."
Gosnell faces another trial in federal court on charges that he was running an illegal prescription-drug operation out of his abortion clinic. That trial is set to begin in September.
Separately, at a congressional hearing Wednesday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was asked about enforcement of the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.
Has the government handled a case under that law "even once," asked Rep. Trent Franks, Arizona Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee subcommittee on the Constitution.
Mr. Holder said he did not have such statistics, but would reply to the question later.
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About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor. Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
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