Gosnell's wife pleads guilty to illegal abortions

Posted: December 14, 2011

IN A VOICE barely audible to courtroom spectators, the wife of alleged murderer Kermit Gosnell pleaded guilty yesterday to helping her husband perform illegal abortions at his West Philadelphia abortion clinic.

The admission by Pearl Gosnell, 50, made her the seventh of the 10 defendants charged in the case to plead guilty.

Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner warned that he could sentence her to as much as 54 years in state prison and $80,000 in fines, though he added that he wouldn't.

Pearl Gosnell, Dr. Gosnell's third wife and the mother of his teenage daughter, pleaded guilty to knowingly participating in a corrupt organization, participating in performing an illegal abortion after the 24th week of gestation and conspiracy.

According to a grand-jury report, Pearl Gosnell was a licensed cosmetologist but worked as a full-time medical assistant at the now-closed Women's Medical Society clinic from 1982 until 1990, when she married the doctor.

"After that . . . she worked there 'maybe every other day,' bringing 'paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, soap,' " according to the report. "On Sundays, she assisted in the procedure room and monitored the patients in the recovery room."

Her husband, 70, may face the death penalty if convicted, prosecutors have said. They have charged him with first-degree murder in the deaths of seven babies born alive then killed, and with the third-degree murder of a 41-year-old patient who died after a botched 2009 abortion - all at the Lancaster Avenue clinic.

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