Virtual Voices
Kermit Gosnell's defense attorney Jack McMahon
Associated Press/Photo by Matt Rourke
Kermit Gosnell's defense attorney Jack McMahon

Finding a witness’ true voice at the Gosnell trail

Abortion

PHILADELPHIA—It’s easy to see why the prosecution saved Kareema Cross for last in its five-week case against abortionist Kermit Gosnell. She was a district attorney’s dream. The staffer who worked at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society from 2005 to 2009 added her “amen” to every foregoing negative testimony about the boss, and then surpassed it.

If Sherry West saw a baby in a toilet, Cross said it was “swimming … trying to get out.” If Ashley Baldwin saw “a chest breathing,” Cross claimed to have seen it more than 10 times. If Lynda Williams saw an aborted baby move its arm one time, Cross saw it draw itself together in the plastic box where Gosnell deposited it just after the gruesome procedure. And it was Cross who was privy to Gosnell’s infamous comment after one abortion: “The baby is big enough to walk around with me or walk to the bus stop.”

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If her former colleagues spoke vaguely of a hygiene-challenged facility, Cross had photos. The courtroom was shown pictures of a leg rest with blood on it, and jars of distinguishable baby feet marinating in formaldehyde. Cross told of at least two women a day “precipitating” (ejecting their babies before the abortion). She said a defibrillator in the office (electronic devise used to get a heart beating again—the mother’s heart, of course) was never used in all the time she worked there. And particularly telling was that when Cross found herself with her own unwanted pregnancy in the course of her employ, she elected to go elsewhere for her abortion.

The piling up of accusations was so effective that at least one reporter I know filed his day’s report at lunchtime, before the defense cross-examined.

But as everybody knows, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). After digesting the morning’s horrors, we returned to watch the defense poke enough holes in the DA’s evidentiary edifice to make it shake a little.

As for the frequency of precipitations before the scheduled abortion, the defense asked if it was not preferable for the woman to avoid invasive surgery. As for the forlorn defibrillator, the defense extracted from the witness what a good thing it was that no one ever needed it. As for the stored and labeled feet, the defense reminded us that by the time the police arrived, most jars were gone, presumably to women for DNA purposes. As for the bloodstain on the leg rest, the defense pointed out that the leg rest in the photo was not attached to the table but put aside, perhaps for cleaning.

As for Cross’ claim that no matter what her ultrasound reading was, Gosnell always jotted down 24.5 weeks, the defense reminded the court that of the 47 babies stored in plastic in the freezer, all were at the legal size with the debatable exception of two. Finally, slight inconsistencies between Cross’ past and present testimonies were raised, and questions of motive arose when it came out that Cross had been fired and was frustrated at not being able to collect unemployment.

Motives are often mixed, to be sure. But Kareema Cross went on to have a living baby after her aborted one. And I believed I was hearing Cross’ true voice yesterday when under withering cross-examination by defense attorney Jack McMahon she explained her long stay in the abortion center run by a man she was growing leery of: “At the time I thought it was a person’s choice. … I didn’t think it was wrong at the time.”

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again. Follow Andrée on Twitter @Andreespeterson.

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