January 19, 2011 / 4:42 PM / 8 years ago

Philadelphia abortion doctor charged with murder

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - An abortion doctor killed hundreds of babies by cutting their spinal cords with scissors after removing them from mothers late in their pregnancies, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams charged Dr. Kermitt Gosnell, 69, and nine associates with eight counts of murder, following a year-long investigation by a grand jury, whose report was unveiled on Wednesday.

The defendants are charged with first-degree murder in the cases of seven babies for which there is substantial evidence, Williams said.

Hundreds of other babies are likely to have died in Gosnell’s West Philadelphia clinic, which he operated from 1979 to 2010, Williams said.

A third-degree murder charge stemmed from the death of a mother who died from an overdose of anesthetics, he said.

“My comprehension of the English language can’t adequately describe the barbaric nature of Dr. Gosnell,” Williams said at a news conference.

Gosnell and his associates were arrested without incident on Wednesday, and Williams said he may seek the death penalty for Gosnell.

He said Gosnell’s clients, many of whom were poor, were charged $325 for a first-trimester abortion and between $1,625 and $3,000 for an illegal abortion after 24 weeks.

Reporting by Jon Hurdle; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton

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