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Jury resumes deliberating fate of Philadelphia abortion doctor

A court gavel
A court gavel

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A Philadelphia jury began its fifth day of deliberations on Monday in the murder trial of a doctor accused of killing babies and a patient during late-term abortions at a clinic serving low-income women.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, who ran the now-shuttered Women's Medical Society Clinic, could face the death penalty if convicted by the jury in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia.

The seven-woman, five-man jury heard five weeks of testimony before starting deliberations last Tuesday. After having the weekend off, the panel reconvened at about 8:30 a.m. on Monday.

Gosnell is charged with four counts of first-degree murder for delivering live babies during late-term abortions and then deliberately severing their spinal cords, prosecutors said.

It is legal in Pennsylvania to abort a fetus up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. Gosnell also faces charges that he performed 24 abortions beyond 24 weeks.

Judge Jeffrey Minehart told jurors last week that state law defines a live baby as one that is fully expelled from the mother and showing signs of life such as breathing, heart beat or movement.

Gosnell's defense contends there is no evidence the babies were alive after they were aborted.

Testimony depicted a filthy clinic serving mostly low-income women in a largely black community.

Gosnell also is charged with murdering Karnamaya Mongar, 41, of Virginia, who died from a drug overdose after going to him for an abortion, prosecutors said.

Gosnell has been in jail since his January 2011 arrest. Eight other defendants have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges and are awaiting sentencing. They include Gosnell's wife, Pearl, a cosmetologist who helped perform abortions.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Doina Chiacu)

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