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May 14, 2013 Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia abortion doctor convicted of killing three babies born alive at his grimy clinic was spared a possible death sentence Tuesday in a deal with prosecutors.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell gave up his right to appeal and in return will spend life in prison. Gosnell, 72, was found guilty Monday of first-degree murder in a case that became a flashpoint in the nation's abortion debate.
Former clinic employees testified that Gosnell routinely performed illegal abortions past Pennsylvania's 24-week limit, that he delivered babies who were still moving, whimpering or breathing, and that he and his assistants dispatched the newborns by "snipping" their spines, as he referred to it.
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty because Gosnell killed more than one person, and his victims were especially vulnerable given their age. But Gosnell's own advanced age had made it unlikely he would ever be executed before his appeals ran out.