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Closing Arguments Made in Controversial Abortion Trial

By: CBS
By: CBS

Lawyers are delivering closing arguments in the murder trial of a Philadelphia abortion provider.

He is accused of killing babies who were born alive.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell could face the death penalty if convicted.

Anti-abortion advocates held a prayer vigil outside a courthouse in Philadelphia where an abortion doctor is on trial, charged with killing four babies as well a 41 year old patient who died during a botched procedure.

Inside, jurors heard closing arguments in the case of Kermit Gosnell. Prosecutors say the 72 year old ran a house of horrors inside his West Philadelphia clinic – conducting illegal late term abortions for poor women. Witnesses testified that Gosnell used scissors to cut the spinal cords of babies who were born alive. Prosecutors described the clinic as filthy.

But Gosnell's lawyers claim the babies were not alive when they were born and he argued that the description of the clinic as "house of horrors" was a fabrication.

The trial has drawn attention from both sides of the abortion debate. Advocates say it highlights the need for safe and legal abortions, but opponents say what happened at the clinic was not an isolated incident.

Carol Hughes used to work in the same neighborhood as Gosnell’s clinic. She describes the scene, "I just saw the activity of the women going in and out." She says news footage of the smiling doctor upset her. Hughes adds, "I hope whatever the verdict is it knocks the smirk off his face...Even if he's found not guilty this is no laughing matter."

Eight of Gosnell’s former employees including his wife have already plead guilty in connection with the case. Gosnell faces the death penalty if convicted.

One of Gosnell’s former co-workers is on trial with him. 56 year old Eileen O’Neil is charged with theft. Prosecutors say she was practicing medicine at Gosnell’s clinic without a license.

But during closing arguments her lawyer says prosecutors didn’t prove their case and O’Neill wasn’t involved in any surgical abortions.


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