Wife in Phila. illegal abortions case pleads guilty

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - December 13, 2011

Pearl Gosnell, 50, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty to performing an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, two counts of conspiracy and participating in a corrupt organization, according to court documents.

Authorities said Gosnell's husband, Kermit Gosnell, ran the Women's Medical Society, an abortion clinic in west Philadelphia where babies born alive were killed by having their spinal cords severed with scissors.

Kermit Gosnell, 70, has pleaded not guilty to murder in the deaths of seven babies and a patient who died of a painkiller overdose while waiting for an abortion. On Monday, a judge scheduled pre-trial motions for Aug. 13 and a capital jury trial for March 2013.

Eight other clinic employees were also charged in the case, and six have pleaded guilty. Some plan to testify against Kermit Gosnell.

According to a grand jury report released almost a year ago, Pearl Gosnell was a cosmetologist who helped her husband perform "extremely late-term" abortions on Sundays and other days the clinic was closed. Authorities said neither was qualified to perform the procedures.

Pearl Gosnell claimed she was certified to take temperatures and blood pressure by a technical institute, but said she could not produce any relevant records because the school had closed, according to the grand jury report.

Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner set Pearl Gosnell's sentencing for Feb. 15. He warned Gosnell that she faces up to 54 years in prison, but that her actual sentence would not be "nearly that long," according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The lawyers in the case are under a gag order. However, defense attorney F. Michael Medway confirmed to the Inquirer that Pearl Gosnell would not testify against her husband at trial, which is her legal privilege.

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