Kermit Gosnell Avoids Death Row, Agrees to Life in Prison

ABC News
Kermit Gosnell Jury Cites Greed in Conviction of Abortion Doctor
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Kermit Gosnell Jury Cites Greed in Conviction of Abortion Doctor (ABC News)

Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell agreed today to serve two life sentences and waive his right to an appeal in order to avoid the possibility of being condemned to death.

Gosnell was convicted of first degree murder on Monday in the deaths of three babies who were born live and then killed by severing their spinal chords with scissors.

As part of the deal, Gosnell, 72, will serve two life sentences without the possibility of parole or the opportunity to appeal.

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty against Gosnell, but because of his advanced age it was deemed unlikely that he would live long enough for death penalty appeals which can last decades.

Gosnell is expected to be sentenced Wednesday. He will also be sentenced on a conviction of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a female patient who was given a lethal dose of sedatives and pain killers in 2009.

The guilty verdicts came on Monday, the jury's 10th day of deliberations.

Gosnell was accused of performing late-term abortions on four babies who were born alive, but were then allegedly killed by Gosnell. He was cleared in the death of one of the infants.

For two months, the jury heard often grisly testimony, including from members of Gosnell's staff. Eight staffers have pleaded guilty to several crimes. Prosecutors said none of the staff were licensed nurses or doctors.

Gosnell ran the Women's Medical Society in West Philadelphia for decades until February 2010, when FBI agents raided his clinic looking for evidence of prescription drug dealing.

Instead they found, as reported in a nearly 300-page grand jury report released in 2011, a filthy, decrepit "house of horrors."

Blood was on the floor, the clinic reeked of urine and bags of fetal remains were stacked in freezers. The clinic was shut down and Gosnell's medical license was suspended after the raid.

Despite repeated complaints to state officials over the years -- as well as 46 lawsuits filed against Gosnell -- investigators said in the report that state regulators had conducted five inspections since the clinic had opened in 1979.

The grand jury report in the case said there had been hundreds of "snippings," in which live babies were born and then killed.

"Gosnell had a simple solution for the unwanted babies he delivered. ... The way he ensured fetal demise was by sticking scissors into the back of the baby's neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that 'snipping,'" the report alleged.

The report also said that many of the women patients were infected with sexually transmitted diseases from contaminated instruments, had suffered from botched procedures or had been given overdoses of dangerous drugs.

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