The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

May 15, 2013

Jurors: Pa. abortion doc got greedy, lost his way

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Dr. Kermit Gosnell proved a serene but solitary figure in the courtroom during his long murder trial, in contrast to the chaotic life he built as an inner-city doctor, abortion provider and father of six.

Jurors who convicted him this week of killing three babies born alive at his run-down West Philadelphia clinic thought he began his career with good intentions, but then lost his way.

"He started out as a good, practicing doctor. But eventually, it just became a money-generating machine," juror Joseph Carroll said Wednesday, after Gosnell was sentenced to life in prison without parole. "Most of us felt it probably came down to a greed factor"

Gosnell, 72, had been the rare black student from his working-class neighborhood to go to medical school. He became an early proponent of therapeutic abortions in the 1960s and '70s, and returned from a stint in New York City to open up a clinic in the impoverished Mantua neighborhood, near where he'd grown up, the only child of a gas station operator and government clerk.

His Women's Medical Center treated the poor, immigrants and teens, offering free basic medical care to elderly people, many of whom were seen in recent years by unlicensed doctor Eileen O'Neill.

But Gosnell made millions performing abortions, charging up to $2,500 or more in cash if women were in their second- or third-trimester. District Attorney R. Seth Williams said Wednesday that Gosnell put women through labor, then killed their babies, "because it's cheaper to do that."

"We had no evidence that these patients were told that ... after the baby is born, and the baby's alive and squirming and kicking and crying, I'm going to sever its spinal cord."

Former staffers testified that Gosnell once performed mostly first-term procedures, perhaps 20 a night, along with a few later-term procedures. But that ratio reversed itself from 2000 to 2010, as Gosnell increasingly attracted desperate women who were further along.

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