THE CASE against Kermit Gosnell is expected to come to an end today, when the disgraced abortion doctor is sentenced after he unexpectedly waived his right to appeal in order to avoid a death sentence.

Gosnell, 72, who was convicted of the first-degree murders of three babies born alive in his West Philadelphia abortion clinic, was supposed to face a penalty-phase hearing starting Tuesday.

But yesterday afternoon, Gosnell changed the script when he stood before Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart and waived all of his appellate rights in exchange for a life-without-parole sentence.

"He was immediately sentenced for the deaths of Baby C and Baby D," the District Attorney's Office said, adding in its statement that Gosnell would be sentenced today for the death of Baby A and more than 200 remaining charges.

It was not clear why D.A. Seth Williams allowed the death penalty to be taken off the table, because a gag order imposed by Minehart prevents attorneys and jurors in the case from talking with reporters.

Gosnell, the former owner of the Women's Medical Society abortion clinic, on Lancaster Avenue near 38th Street, was arrested in January 2011 after a grand-jury investigation concluded that he and his untrained staff had killed babies born alive during abortions by cutting their spinal cords with scissors. He also regularly performed illegal late-term abortions and violated numerous other laws. Gosnell also was convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of a patient who died of a drug overdose during a November 2009 abortion.

Today on PhillyDailyNews.com: An interactive timeline of Dr. Kermit Gosnell's career and the case against him.

On Twitter: @MensahDean