By Sam Baker - 05/13/13 07:29 PM EDT
Philadelphia abortion provider Kermit Gosnell was convicted on Monday on three counts of first-degree murder.
Prosecutors accused Gosnell of delivering live babies capable of moving and breathing on their
own, then killing them by cutting their spinal cords with scissors.
A jury found Gosnell guilty on three counts of first-degree murder and
not guilty on a fourth count, according to the Associated Press. He could face the death penalty.
"I’m grateful justice has been served. Many families still recovering from the horror & pain. Pray for them and for all human life," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said on Twitter as the convictions were announced.
Gosnell's trial has roiled the national debate over abortion rights and attracted a storm of media attention after conservatives initially accused the national media of ignoring the story.
Anti-abortion groups have said the conditions in Gosnell's clinic are not unique. They also accused abortion-rights supporters of pressuring Pennsylvania regulators not to inspect abortion clinics.
“The greatest tragedy is that Kermit Gosnell is not alone. Exploitation of women and complete disregard for their health and well-being are problems endemic to the entire abortion industry," the Susan B. Anthony List said in a statement.
Abortion-rights supporters, on the other hand, argue that Gosnell's case is a reminder of the conditions women faced before abortion became legal nationwide.
"We hope that the lessons of the trial do not fade with the verdict," NARAL Pro-Choice America said in a statement Monday. "Anti-choice politicians, and their unrelenting efforts to deny women access to safe and legal abortion care, will only drive more women to back-alley butchers like Kermit Gosnell."
Gosnell was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Karnamaya Mongar, who died in the clinic after being given multiple injections of the sedative Demerol.
Prosecutors described Gosnell’s clinic as a "house of horrors" where tools were not sanitized, infections were passed from patient to patient and dead babies were stashed haphazardly in jars and milk jugs.
Gosnell's defense attorneys argued that his abortions were successful, and the fetuses died from drugs he administered before delivery.
Gosnell also faced more than 200 charges of violating state abortion law. He performed abortions much later than the law allows in Pennsylvania, where the procedure is illegal after 24 weeks in most cases.
— This post was updated at 4:15 p.m.