PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia abortion doctor convicted of killing three babies who were born alive in his grimy clinic agreed today to give up his right to an appeal and faces life in prison but will be spared a death sentence.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, was found guilty Monday of first-degree murder in the deaths of the babies who were delivered alive and killed with scissors.
In a case that became a flashpoint in the nation's abortion debate, former clinic employees testified that Gosnell routinely performed illegal abortions past Pennsylvania's 24-week limit, that he delivered babies who were still moving, whimpering or breathing, and that he and his assistants dispatched the newborns by "snipping" their spines, as he referred to it.
Prosecutors agreed to two life sentences without parole, and Gosnell was to be sentenced Wednesday in the death of the third baby, an involuntary manslaughter conviction in the death of a patient and hundreds of lesser counts.
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty because Gosnell killed more than one person, and his victims were especially vulnerable given their age. But Gosnell's own advanced age had made it unlikely he would ever be executed before his appeals ran out.