February 5, 2011 in Nation/World

Judge denies public defender for abortion doctor

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA – A doctor accused of running a filthy abortion clinic and using scissors to kill babies should sell assets if necessary to hire a lawyer for his murder trial because he doesn’t qualify for a public defender, a judge ruled Friday.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, of West Philadelphia, is charged with killing a patient during a botched abortion and using scissors to sever the spinal cords of seven viable babies born alive. His wife, Pearl Gosnell, a cosmetologist accused of performing abortions, is among 10 clinic employees charged last month after a lengthy grand jury investigation.

A judge urged the Gosnells, who are detained, to get counsel before a preliminary hearing scheduled Wednesday. A lawyer who represented Kermit Gosnell during the investigation has stepped down.

Gosnell, 69, made millions of dollars over 30 years, performing as many illegal, late-term abortions as he could, prosecutors said. His patients were subjected to barbaric conditions at his Women’s Medical Society, prosecutors said. He mostly worked overnight hours after his untrained staff administered drugs to induce labor during the day, they said.

Early last year, authorities went to investigate drug-related complaints at the clinic and stumbled upon what District Attorney Seth Williams called a “house of horrors.”

Prosecutors say the Gosnells own 17 properties in four states, along with a boat, but the couple described themselves as nearly destitute.

“I asked for a public defender, but I’m not eligible because I have assets?” Kermit Gosnell asked.

The couple acknowledged owning a half-dozen of the properties, but Kermit Gosnell said he didn’t want to sell them because he still has to support his youngest child.

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