April 30, 2013 —A Philadelphia jury on Tuesday will begin deliberating the charges against physician Kermit Gosnell, including allegations that he killed a woman and several infants born alive during abortion procedures, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
The murder charges include four counts of first-degree murder for the alleged deaths of the infants and one count of third-degree murder for a pregnant woman who died during a procedure at Gosnell's clinic. Additional charges include 24 counts of performing abortions past Pennsylvania's 24-week limit, 227 counts of performing abortions in violation of the state's 24-hour waiting period and additional counts involving racketeering and operating a corrupt organization.
Gosnell could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole if the jury finds him guilty of any of the first-degree murder charges. According to the Inquirer, the deliberations could be lengthy. Jurors were set to hear legal instructions from Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart on Tuesday morning and then begin discussing the case.
Prosecution's Closing Arguments
Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron in closing arguments recapped testimony from 54 witnesses and several exhibits to demonstrate that Gosnell had violated his oaths as a doctor (Slobodzian, Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/29). He argued that the testimony showed how Gosnell killed infants born alive after he failed to give women digoxin -- a drug to cause fetal demise -- or the drug failed to work as intended (Gabriel, New York Times, 4/29).
Cameron said Gosnell "created an assembly line with no regard for these women whatsoever," adding, "And he made money doing that" (AP/Politico, 4/29).
Defense's Closing Arguments
Defense attorney Jack McMahon argued that none of the abortion procedures resulted in live births -- and thus could not be considered murder -- because the women had been given digoxin. "Every single piece of scientific evidence in this case has shown stillbirth," he said (New York Times, 4/29).
McMahon also contended that the prosecution and the media unfairly distorted Gosnell's practice as a "house of horrors," and he asked the jury to choose between rolling "with the tsunami of simplistic press and rhetoric, or ... stand against the power of that tsunami."
Gosnell did not testify in his own defense, and McMahon did not call any witnesses (Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/29).