US abortion doctor found guilty of murder

Trial of Gosnell over killing of three babies born alive at clinic after late terminations

A Philadelphia abortion doctor was found guilty of first-degree murder for the killing three babies born alive at his clinic during abortions by severing their spinal cords with scissors.

Kermit Gosnell (72) was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of patient Karnamaya Mongar (41) who died from a drug overdose after going to the doctor's clinic for an abortion.

Gosnell didn’t react at first to the verdicts which found him guilty on three out of four counts on first-degree murder and then shook his head while looking at the jurors, according to observers in court.

The seven-woman, five-man jury returned with the verdicts hours after they told the judge in the case that they could not decide on two charges out of more than 260 they had to consider in the case.

Judge Jeffrey Minehart had issued the jury with what is called a Spencer charge, telling them to re-examine the evidence and continue trying to reach a verdict.

The trial will now turn to sentencing next Tuesday to decide whether Gosnell should face the death penalty or life in prison.

Gosnell ran the Women’s Medical Society Clinic in west Philadelphia providing abortions to mostly poor, lower-class African-American women. He was found guilty of conspiracy to perform abortions beyond Pennsylvania’s 24-week limit in a case that stirred debate about late-term abortions and was closely monitored by anti-abortion groups.

The judge had instructed the jury in the case that the state’s law defines a live baby as one that is fully expelled from the mother and shows signs of life such as breathing or movement.

One of the babies, Baby C, for which Gosnell has been convicted of murder, was seen by employees of the clinic moving her arm before her neck was snipped. One employee said that Gosnell joked that another baby, Baby A, was so big that he “could walk me to the bus stop.”

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent