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Grisly Abortion Doctor Fights Pill-Mill Sentence

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - The physician serving three life sentences for killing babies in a gory late-term abortion clinic has asked a federal judge to vacate his sentence for also operating a pill mill that doled out thousands of painkiller prescriptions.

Kermit Gosnell's operation of a pill mill at the Women's Medical Society Clinic in West Philadelphia drew less attention than his murder charges, and vacating the 30-year sentence it brought would not affect his life sentences.

The 74-year-old now claims in a pro se motion filed Dec. 23 that the government coerced his confession as to the pill mill, that his counsel was ineffective in investigating the coercion, and that his conviction was so overshadowed by media attention that the jury required a special instruction to ignore it, which the judge did not order.

"The character and credibility of defendant was so imbued that sentencing and due process, in both federal and state proceedings, were adversely and prejudicially affected by the media and public perception," the 34-page motion states. "Factual evidence was outweighed by monsterous [sic] allegations."

Gosnell also claims that OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma concealed the abuse risks of its time-release formula, the evidence of which did not surface until January 2015.

In 2013, Gosnell's trial became a focal point of indigent medical treatment in the poorest big city in America - 25 percent of Philadelphians live at or below the poverty line.

The case enflamed pro-life advocates who saw Gosnell's clinic as an example of the grisliness of abortion rights, and pro-choice supporters who portrayed the clinic as an example of restrictions and cultural sanctioning of early abortions.

The government convicted four employees of the clinic for abetting Gosnell.

Evidence related to the pill mill included Gosnell telling an undercover federal agent that he wrote about 200 prescriptions per night. The government charged him with being "nothing more than a common drug dealer."

Gosnell's pro se motion comes two months after an ultimately unsuccessful petition for access to his court records and transcripts.

In denying his request, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe said he had not looked for any of the records hard enough.

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