Abortionist Kermit Gosnell Spared Death Penalty

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PHILADELPHIA -- Late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of three infants born alive, but he was spared the death penalty.

Instead, he received two life sentences without parole for the deaths of two infants in exchange for waiving the right to appeal. On Wednesday, he may face a mandatory third life term for the third infant when he's sentenced for an overdose death of a patient and a multitude of lesser charges.

Gosnell's gruesome case highlights a terrible problem in America: partial-birth abortion is not limited to Gosnell's house of horrors. But his case may change the debate over abortion.

Throughout the eight-week trial, Gosnell and his attorney maintained his innocence. But immediately after hearing the verdict the late-term abortionist had nothing to say.

What should Congress do to protect the safety of women and babies? Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., addressed that question and more on Newswatch, May 14.

In the end, jurors found sufficient evidence to convict Gosnell on multiple counts of first degree murder for killing three newborn infants after they were born alive.

He was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 41-year-old immigrant who died from a drug overdose during a botched abortion.
    
It took jurors 10 days to convict Gosnell on those charges and more than 200 other counts violating Pennsylvania's abortion laws.

"I respect what juries do. I don't always agree, but I respect everything they did and they should be commended for their efforts," defense attorney Jack McMahon said.
    
Gosnell operated his clinic for 30 years in west Philadelphia before it was shut down for prescribing painkillers illegally.
    
But what investigators found was far worse. They described his clinic as a "house of horrors," with blood-stained walls, unsterilized medical equipment, and fetal remains stored in the employee refrigerator.

"It is clear that this person was not following the rules and we have a role in society of making sure that those people who don't follow the law pay the consequences of not following the law," Gov. Tom Corbett, R-Pa., said.
    
The jury has yet to determine whether Gosnell should get the death sentence. It is a case that's left a dark stain on Philadelphia -- one some hope to remove.

Elaine Russo runs the Hope Pregnancy Center not far from where Gosnell practiced. It's on track to save more lives than it did last year -- 27.
    
"This year alone, just in these last four months, we've saved 10 babies," Russo said. "The most recent was just a week ago."
    
The center is the brainchild of Rev. Herb Lusk, who ministers in the heart of the inner city.

"One out of every two pregnancies in the African American community right now are aborted -- one out of every two," said Lusk, pastor of Greater Exodus Baptist Church.
    
Lusk says he decided to start the center after he noticed women in the church who, in his words, were pregnant one Sunday and not the next.

"I kept saying what is going on and realized that with all the abortion mills in our neighborhood that many of them were using abortion almost as birth control," Lusk said. "At that point I knew I had do something and just talking about it wasn't going to be enough."

Even now with the clinic closed and Dr. Gosnell convicted, many in the pro-life movement say the fight is far from over. They're concerned about how many other clinics may be operating under the radar just like Gosnell's was.

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