NBC10.com - Lu Ann Cahn
The jury for the trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell had their first day of deliberations today. NBC10's Lu Ann Cahn has the story.
A Philadelphia jury began weighing murder charges Tuesday against a veteran abortion provider charged with killing four viable babies allegedly born alive.
Defense lawyer Jack McMahon insists Dr. Kermit Gosnell helped poor, desperate women and teens who had no other access to medical care.
However, prosecutors say he routinely killed live babies because he did not know how to do a proper abortion in the womb. Gosnell is charged with first-degree murder in those deaths.
The 72-year-old is also charged with third-degree murder in the 2009 overdose death of a woman patient allegedly sedated by two untrained medical assistants.
Gosnell's clinic, Women's Medical Society, has been shuttered since the FBI raided the clinic one night in 2010 looking for prescription drug abuses. Instead, they found Gosnell's abortion clinic in full swing.
Officials found deplorable conditions inside. Filthy patient rooms and untrained staff helping to perform procedures. Prosecutors called the facility a "house of horrors" in court and a 2011 grand jury report.
The jury was charged and started their deliberations at 1:04 p.m. Wednesday.
Closing arguments heard Monday were full of passionate and loud assertions by both sides of the case.
McMahon claimed his client has been the subject of a "racist" prosecution -- adding that "never has the presumption of innocence been stomped on, trampled on, like in this case."
McMahon argued every baby died in the womb after the drug Digoxin was injected to stop the fetus' heart.
But prosecutor Ed Cameron called Gosnell's operation an assembly line where a stream of poor, mostly minority women and teens endured hours of painful labor and delivery because Gosnell did not successfully abort babies in utero. He instead killed them with scissors after they were born, authorities said.
"Once a baby is outside of the mother, it's alive." he said. "You cannot accelerate its death. If you do, that is murder."
If convicted of first-degree murder, Gosnell can face the death penalty.