PHILADELPHIA—And now we wait, as the murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell goes to the jury after today’s closing arguments by the prosecution and the defense. The more philosophical of us ponder concepts like justice and reasonable doubt, and the possibility of anything transcendent coming through cracked tin vessels shoehorned in a jury box for five weeks, perhaps each daydreaming of lost golf days or what’s for dinner.
The defense’s final appeal cannot help but be this: In not one case could the coroner say conclusively that the 47 babies in the blue and red plastic bags had been born alive.
That appeal would seem to be overridden by the cumulative stench of a holocaust of unborn babies, happily invoked by the prosecution—except for one thing: that the whole idea of an abortion center to begin with is to kill babies! Therefore the stench must be pronounced immaterial to the jury’s deliberations.
You cannot convict the man, in other words, just because of the visceral. You must have more than that. You cannot throw the book at him just because the whole business at 3801 Lancaster Avenue stinks to high heaven. Because the fact of the matter is that you would have smelled that same stench after camping out for five weeks at any abortion facility in the country. It is only because we happened to have our noses rubbed in the Women’s Medical Society’s daily workings that we all feel ready to take a good bath in Lysol. But undifferentiated disgust cannot be the basis of any fair verdict of murder on Gosnell. It must be differentiated. Otherwise you must rightly bring down the murder rap on all other abortionists along with Gosnell.
It will be the jury’s unenviable duty—if they can do it—to disentangle in their minds their revulsion at the pictures of dead babies on tables from the particular technical illegalities of Gosnell. Why? Because there are many photos of dead babies on tables in the land, and they are mainly of legally aborted ones. The sight of Gosnell’s 47 corpses, however foul, must not be allowed to cloud the jury’s judgment. Dead babies are neither here nor there. Karen Feisullin, an ob-gyn over at the fancy suburban hospital and the prosecution’s star witness, puts them under a cloth until they die; Gosnell administered an expeditious incision to the back of the head to make death quicker. Where is the dime’s worth of difference?
So may the jury deliberate on the merits of the case and not the emotion. For if we all went by enlightened emotion, it seems to me that there would not be an abortion center left in the nation.