Story updated at 2 p.m. EDT to include quotation from Operation Rescue.

PHILADELPHIA, April 23, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A federal judge has dropped nine charges – including three murder charges and one count of infanticide – against Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, as his trial resumed this morning.

Local media report the judge has determined Gosnell will not face three counts of murder, one count of infanticide, and five counts of abuse of a corpse. The latter charges related to Gosnell's keeping the severed feet of aborted babies in jars in his clinic.

Gosnell still faces the remaining four charges of first degree murder in the deaths of newborn babies, and an additional charge of third degree murder over the death of one of his abortion clients.

Gosnell's defense attorney, Jack McMahon, had asked that all seven charges of first degree murder be dismissed due to lack of evidence, a standard tactic. McMahon claimed that the prosecution could not prove that the babies were born alive.

"I am shocked that these counts have been dismissed," said Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser for Operation Rescue. "I have heard testimony by very credible witnesses to the effect that these babies were murdered in cold blood by Gosnell as they cried and struggled for life." 

Testimony in the trial so far has featured several of Gosnell's former employees, who have recounted how babies were routinely born alive during Gosnell's "abortion" method. Gosnell, or one of his untrained medical staff, would then "snip" the spinal cords of the babies.

Witnesses have described seeing newborn babies breathing, writhing, screeching, and, in one macabre case, flailing about in a toilet "trying to get out," before meeting their demise at Gosnell's hands.

""If Gosnell gets off scot-free, that will send a message that murdering live babies and abortion patients is now acceptable behavior in America and that abortionists who engage in such depraved practices are above the law," Sullenger added. "This would put women and babies in grave danger - more than they already face - at abortion clinic throughout the nation."

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The judge did not indicate why he dropped the nine charges, according to reporters in the courtroom.

The “house of horrors” abortionist's trial resumed today with the defense, after the prosecution ended its case on Wednesday. The trial had been scheduled to resume Monday but was delayed due to McMahon's illness.

Gosnell, 72, still faces the death penalty if convicted on the remaining charges of murder.

"We pray that justice will be done in the remaining five victims of Gosnell's horrific slayings," Sullenger said.