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Jury begins 8th day of deliberations in U.S. abortion doctor case

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A Philadelphia jury started its eighth day of deliberations on Thursday in the murder trial of a doctor accused of killing babies and a patient during late-term abortions at a clinic that served low-income women.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, who ran the now-closed Women's Medical Society Clinic, could face the death penalty if convicted by the jury in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia.

The seven-woman, five-man jury heard five weeks of testimony before starting deliberations on April 30.

The seventh day of deliberations, during which jurors heard testimony they had requested be read back to them, ended on Wednesday with no verdict. The jury resumed discussions at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, its eighth day of deliberations.

Gosnell is charged with four counts of first-degree murder for delivering live babies during late-term abortions and then deliberately severing their spinal cords, prosecutors said.

It is legal in Pennsylvania to abort a fetus up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. Gosnell also faces charges that he performed 24 abortions beyond 24 weeks in term.

Gosnell's defense contends there is no evidence the babies were alive after they were aborted.

Testimony depicted a filthy clinic, serving mostly low-income women in a largely black community.

Gosnell also is charged with murdering Karnamaya Mongar, 41, of Virginia, who died from a drug overdose after going to him for an abortion, prosecutors said.

Gosnell has been in jail since his January 2011 arrest. Eight other defendants have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges and are awaiting sentencing. They include Gosnell's wife, Pearl, a cosmetologist who helped perform abortions.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Maureen Bavdek)

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