AS THE capital-murder trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell gets under way Monday morning, and unfolds over the next six to eight weeks, both the anti-abortion and abortion-rights camps will be taking a keen interest.
Gosnell, 72, who owned a now-closed West Philly abortion clinic that prosecutors dubbed a fetus-strewn "house of horrors," faces the possibility of a death sentence for allegedly delivering seven premature babies and killing them by cutting their spinal cords with scissors.
In addition, Gosnell is facing what amounts to a life sentence for a slew of other charges, including a third-degree murder count for allegedly prescribing the fatal drug overdose to a woman who died at his Lancaster Avenue clinic following a 2009 abortion.
"I think it's obvious he will be found guilty," said John Stanton, a board member of the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia. "It's pretty much an open-and-shut case that he violated laws in such a manner that he is guilty of the charges laid on him."
Before the February 2010 police raid that closed down Gosnell's Women's Medical Society clinic, Stanton said, members of his organization went there to pray in protest every second Saturday of the month for 12 years.
Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, one of the region's most influential abortion-rights groups, has also condemned Gosnell's alleged crimes while denying media reports that it referred women to his clinic for late-term abortions.
"Planned Parenthood strongly condemns the alleged actions of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. . . . Planned Parenthood has never referred any patient to Dr. Gosnell's practice," Dayle Steinberg, the organization's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement shortly after Gosnell was arrested in 2011.
"Abortion is safe when performed in facilities that maintain high standards of care and value the women they serve," Curtiss Hannum, an official at the pro-abortion Philadelphia Women's Center, told the Daily News following Gosnell's arrest.
"Dr. Gosnell did not hurt women because he provided abortions; he hurt women because he practiced outside of the law and in unsafe, substandard, deplorable medical conditions," Hannum added.
Stanton, of the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia, said he is pleased that the state Department of Health has stepped up inspections of abortion facilities due to the Gosnell case, but is dismayed that Mayor Nutter supports abortion rights and that the city has paid for some low-income women to have the procedure.
"Abortion at its core is a violation of the mother and the child in her womb. Gosnell was paid to kill people, and that's what he did," added Stanton, who is opposed to the death penalty and hopes Gosnell receives a life sentence.
Gosnell was arrested with nine employees of his clinic who were charged with crimes ranging from murder to practicing medicine without a license.
All have pleaded guilty expect Eileen O'Neill, 56, who will be tried with Gosnell. O'Neill, a medical-school graduate from Phoenixville, is charged with multiple counts of working as a doctor despite lacking a medical license and certification.