Why the Gosnell case resonates

On Monday, I sat in the Philadelphia courtroom where abortionist Kermit Gosnell was being tried for murder. I was there as a representative of Americans United for Life (AUL), a pro-life group.

Gosnell is accused of snapping the spinal cords of four babies who survived botched abortions. He’s also on the hook for the 2009 overdose of a woman at his clinic.

Prosecutor Ed Cameron delivered a passionate closing argument. At one point Cameron turned to Gosnell and asked, “Are you human?”

In light of the facts revealed during the trial, it was a legitimate question. Gosnell responded with laughter.

The prosecution presented evidence of appalling conditions in the clinic (including the re-use of unsterilized instruments, blood on chairs and equipment, fetal body parts clogging the plumbing, and general filth). The defense responded by stating that the clinic was “not perfect” and was engaging in “urban healthcare.”

The defense didn’t try to dispute the allegation that Gosnell snipped the babies’ spinal cords. The evidence was too clear — there were photographs, babies’ bodies, and several incidents described in testimony. Gosnell’s attorney simply argued that the babies were already dead when the snipping occurred.

This raises an obvious question: Why would Gosnell and his staff snip the necks of dead babies? Gosnell’s attorney suggested they were trying to alleviate some sort of pain. But how can dead babies feel pain?

Ultimately, Gosnell’s fate hinges on one question: Did he kill these third-trimester, fully formed infants while they were still inside their mothers’ wombs, or did he wait until they were delivered hours or moments later? The court’s answer to that question will determine whether Gosnell is guilty of murder.

Illogical? Yes. Incomprehensible? Absolutely. But our nation’s laws are radically pro-abortion. Only North Korea, China, and Canada regulate late-term abortion as loosely as the United States.

And then there’s what happened to Karnamaya Mongar, the wife and mother of four who had survived 20 years in a refugee camp in Bhutan only to die, surrounded by filth, in Gosnell’s clinic from a drug overdose administered by Gosnell’s staff under his supervision. Karnamaya could not be revived by the clinic’s broken defibrillator.

According to the grand jury report, the emergency entrance was locked and chained, and the hallways were too narrow to fit a stretcher. Tragically, it took emergency personnel over 20 minutes to simply get Karnamaya out of the building.

Yet the abortion lobby continues to oppose common-sense clinic regulations that would protect women from these conditions. On Tuesday, one day after the closing arguments in the Gosnell case, “PBS NewsHour” featured a debate between AUL President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest and NARAL Pro-Choice America President IIyse Hogue. Ms. Hogue called regulating the width of clinic hallways an “arbitrary restriction” because, she said, the width of a clinic’s hallways has “no bearing on the medical care that a woman can get.”

But, as shown in the Gosnell case, it’s important to regulate the width of medical facilities’ hallways to guarantee that emergency workers with life-saving gear and equipment can easily access the people inside. Such regulations do not single out abortion clinics — though the abortion industry frequently chooses inadequate venues out of greed and a general unwillingness to conform to medical standards.