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A Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday threw out three out of seven murder charges against Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion doctor being tried for "killing viable fetuses while performing abortions," The New York Times reports.
The Times adds:
"Judge Minehart also granted a motion for acquittal in five charges of abuse of a corpse against Dr. Gosnell, who, according to prosecutors, killed fetuses that were alive after they were aborted by plunging scissors into their necks. Dr. Gosnell, 72, was also acquitted on one charge of infanticide.
"The judge gave no reason for his decision, which came on the fifth week of the trial and preceded the start of defense arguments, which had been scheduled to begin on Tuesday afternoon but are now expected to start Wednesday."
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the charges that still stand:
"In addition to counts of first-degree murder for killing four babies allegedly born alive, those charges include the third-degree murder of a patient who died of a drug overdose following a botched 2009 abortion and multiple counts of preforming illegal, late-term abortions.
"Minehart also dismissed six of the nine counts of theft by deception against Gosnell co-defendant Eileen O'Neill, whom prosecutors contend worked at the clinic as a doctor despite that having a medical license."
The case has become a rallying point for both those who oppose abortion rights and those who support them.
As NPR's Jeff Brady reported in March, the case was also the driving force behind a sweeping change in the standards required of abortion clinics.
"Now most clinics in the state are held to the same standards as outpatient surgery centers," Jeff reported. "That means abortion clinics must have doors and elevators that can accommodate a stretcher in case something goes wrong."