A Philadelphia jury on Monday found late-term abortion provider Kermit Gosnell guilty of three counts of first-degree murder. The verdict means that Gosnell could face the death penalty.
The West Philadelphia doctor allegedly delivered live babies and used scissors to cut their spinal cords. The grand jury report in the case chronicled the “house of horrors” that took place in Gosnell’s clinic, calling his medical practice “a filthy fraud” in which he “regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy” and proceeded to murder them.
The state of Pennsylvania bans abortion in pregnancies that have progressed beyond 24 weeks. Gosnell was also found guilty of 21 counts of abortion of the unborn, 24 weeks or older, as well as of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient who suffered a fatal drug-overdose during the course of an abortion.
Details about the goings on at Gosnell’s clinic emerged two years ago when authorities investigating prescription drug trafficking there found stored fetuses, jars containing tiny feet, unsanitary medical instruments, and cats roaming freely. “It was a baby charnel house,” the grand jury concluded.
Critics of abortion have used the Gosnell trial to draw attention to the issue and to gruesome practices that they say are more common than many Americans believe. The abortion-rights group Planned Parenthood today applauded the verdict, saying it ”will ensure that no woman is victimized by Kermit Gosnell ever again.” A spokesman for the organization said, ”We must have and enforce laws that protect access to safe and legal abortion.”
Speaking outside the courthouse moments after the jury handed down its decision, Gosnell’s attorney Jack McMahon said he had confidence in the legal system but acknowledged that the case presented particular difficulties, including what he called “The baby factor.” McMahon also claimed the media made his job toughter: ”The media has been overwhelmingly against [Gosnell],” he told reporters.
McMahon nonetheless applauded the jury for a job well done. “They didn’t just come down kneejerk and find him guilty of everything, this jury, five murder counts were not guilty, so they obviously took their job seriously.”