UPDATED: Philadelphia doctor guilty of murder in 3 late-term abortions
PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia doctor was found guilty on Monday of murdering three babies during abortions at a clinic serving low-income women in a case that cast a national spotlight on the controversial practice of late-term abortions.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, who ran the now-shuttered Women';s Medical Society Clinic, faces the possibility of the death penalty. The case focused on whether the infants were born alive and then killed.
He was accused of delivering live babies during late-term abortions and then deliberately severing their spinal cords.
Gosnell, wearing a maroon shirt and red tie, was stoic as the foreman read the verdicts. One woman on the jury cried.
After the jury was dismissed, prosecutor Joanne Pescatore threw her arms around a police officer who was a crime scene investigator at the clinic and sobbed.
The trial, which anti-abortion advocates had complained was being ignored by the media because of a bias in favor of abortion rights, was punctuated by graphic testimony.
Witness testimony described the babies as born breathing, moving and making sounds. Testimony also depicted a filthy clinic, and prosecutors called it a ';house of horrors.';
The jury heard five weeks of testimony in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia and deliberated for 10 days.
Gosnell also was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the case of Karnamaya Mongar, 41, of Virginia, who died from a drug overdose after going to him for an abortion.
He also was found guilty of performing 21 abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy at his clinic, which served mostly low-income women in a largely black community. It is legal in Pennsylvania to abort a fetus up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy.
The verdicts come as late-term abortion has become a hot-button issue in a number of statehouses this year.
Nine states ban abortions after 20 weeks, according to the pro-choice organization NARAL. Other states recently put new restrictions on abortions, with Arkansas banning them at 12 weeks and North Dakota at six weeks.
Most abortions, 92 percent, are performed before 14 weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 1.3 percent are performed beyond 20 weeks.