SHARECOMMENTMORE

by Sean O'Sullivan, The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal

STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

- The clinic has been shuttered since 2010.

- Eight clinic workers previously pleaded guilty to murder, other charges.

- He is on trial with a woman accused of being an unlicensed doctor


PHILADELPHIA - The jury in the murder trial of a Philadelphia abortion doctor enters its ninth day of deliberations Friday, pondering trial testimony from former clinic staffers about snipping the spinal cords of premature babies allegedly born alive.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who had owned and operated the Women's Medical Society in west Philadelphia for more than 30 years, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in connection with those fetal deaths. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

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Gosnell, 72, also is charged with third-degree murder in the 2009 death of patient Karnamaya Mongar, 41, a refugee from Bhutan who died months after coming to the United States and traveled from Virginia for an abortion after she was turned away at three other clinics. In addition, Gosnell faces hundreds of lesser charges, including racketeering, conspiracy and 227 counts of violating Pennsylvania's waiting period for abortion.

On Thursday, the jury of seven women and five men spent most of the day listening to trial transcripts of testimony from former clinic staffer Adrienne Moton that was read to them; on Wednesday, they asked to hear worker Lynda Williams' testimony. During the trial, both women said they had cut the backs of the necks of babies that abortion patients delivered prematurely in the clinic, even when those babies were moving, on Gosnell's orders.

Prosecutors say Gosnell routinely performed illegal, third-term abortions and failed to counsel women 24 hours in advance. Pennsylvania abortion laws ban abortions after 24 weeks.

Three staffers at the clinic, closed after a 2010 raid as part of a federal investigation into whether Gosnell was selling prescriptions for narcotics, have pleaded guilty to third-degree murder charges, admitting they helped medicate Mongar or snipped babies' necks to make sure they died. In all, eight staffers, including Gosnell's wife, have pleaded guilty to various charges since a 2011 grand jury indictment.

Gosnell's lawyer has argued that no babies were born alive during the abortions.

Also a co-defendant in the trial is Eileen O'Neill, 56, of Phoenixville, Pa., who went to medical school but worked as an unlicensed doctor in Gosnell's family practice. She is charged in six counts of theft by deception for continuing to represent herself as a doctor.

After the read-back concluded, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas jury deliberated for about an hour before Judge Jeffrey Minehart dismissed them for the day.

Contributing: The Associated Press