Gosnell defense: Verdict must 'transcend' bloody reality of abortion

Gosnell Trial
by Leigh Jones
Posted 4/29/13, 04:05 pm

Abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s defense attorney tried one last time during today’s closing arguments to convince the jury in the Philadelphia courtroom his client is not a murderer who operated what prosecutors called a “house of horrors.”

Handing jurors photographs of a relatively clean waiting room and other areas in Gosnell’s West Philadelphia abortion center, Jack McMahon said the photos don’t lie.

“Who are you going to believe?” McMahon asked, referencing the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case. “Mr. [Ed] Cameron or your lying eyes?”

During his time before the jury, McMahon reiterated his claim that the trial was nothing more than an elitist and racist prosecution of his client, who is African-American. He also claimed prosecutors failed to provide solid evidence that babies born during late-term abortions were alive.

Earlier in the trial, a city inspector testified to gruesome conditions inside Gosnell’s facility: outdated and filthy equipment, unsanitary practices, and baby body parts stored on shelves and in freezers.

Gosnell, 72, faces four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of four infants. During the five-week trial, jurors saw photographs of babies with long gashes in the backs of their necks. Despite claims the babies could not survive the abortion drugs Gosnell injected into their mothers’ wombs, the abortionist regularly “snipped” their spinal cords, just in case.

Why would he do that unless the babies had a chance at life, Cameron asked last week.

During his closing argument, McMahon acknowledged the testimony about Gosnell’s actions was hard to take. But he urged jurors to forget about that as they mulled their verdict.

“Abortion—as is any surgical procedure—isn’t pretty,” McMahon said. “It’s bloody. It’s real. But you have to transcend that.”

Over the course of the trial, jurors also heard testimony from four of Gosnell’s former employees, who said they saw babies move, take breaths, and even cry after being born. McMahon described those actions as involuntary spasms. All four of the former employees pleaded guilty to third-degree murder charges.

Last week, the judge threw out three other first-degree murder charges, saying prosecutors failed to make their case that those infants could have been born alive. 

In addition to the remaining four first-degree charges, Gosnell also faces one third-degree murder charge in the death of a patient who overdosed during a late-term abortion procedure, as well as lesser charges that include racketeering, performing illegal abortions after 24 weeks, failing to observe the 24-hour waiting period, and endangering a child’s welfare for employing a 15-year-old in the procedure area.

Gosnell did not take the stand in his own defense, and McMahon did not call any other witnesses to make his case. If the jury finds him guilty, Gosnell could take the stand in the penalty phase of the trial. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

While the prosecution has described Gosnell as a predatory monster who took advantage of desperate people and made millions, the abortionist described himself as an upstanding citizen.

“I wanted to be an effective, positive force in the minority community,” Gosnell told the Philadelphia Daily News during a 2010 interview.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.

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