When Dr. Kermit Gosnell was accused of multiple counts of murder relating to illegal late-term abortions, his six-week trial became a media frenzy, as abortion rights and anti-abortion advocates weighed in. Gosnell was found guilty Monday and may face the death penalty. Revisit PBS NewsHour’s April 22 story on the trial and testimony.
A jury found Dr. Kermit Gosnell guilty of three counts of first-degree murder for performing late-term abortions on three babies by delivering them alive and then deliberately severing their spinal cords.
Pennsylvania law prohibits abortions after 24 weeks, but former employees at his now-closed clinic in West Philadelphia testified he regularly ignored the limit to perform illegal late-term abortions.
Prosecutors accused, and witnesses testified, that the three babies delivered by Gosnell were still moving, whimpering or breathing before they were killed. The doctor was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for an abortion patient who overdosed and died in his care. Gosnell was acquitted in a murder charge for a fourth baby.
Both abortion rights and anti-abortion organizations endorsed the verdict, saying it validates their positions on the issue. Anti-abortion organization United for Life’s CEO Charmain Yoest told The Associated Press that the ruling was a “triumph for justice.” Ilyse G. Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said that Kermit Gosnell “will get what he deserves.”
While anti-abortion activists said the case shows the real details of the procedure, abortion rights advocates argue that further restriction of abortions will only push the practice underground where it cannot be monitored for proper safety controls.
Gosnell could face the death penalty. The jury will return to court May 21 to hear evidence that could affect the Gosnell’s sentence.