Kermit Gosnell’s attorney abruptly rested his case this morning, without calling the Philadelphia abortionist or any other witnesses to the stand in his defense.
After five weeks of testimony detailing Gosnell’s gruesome practice of slicing through babies’ spinal cords following late-term abortion procedures, the case will be handed over to the jury next week. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.
Gosnell, 72, faces five counts of murder—four for babies allegedly killed after being born alive and one for a patient who died after receiving too much anesthesia. Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Minehart dismissed three other charges Tuesday, saying state prosecutors had failed to make a case in the deaths of those babies.
Gosnell faces the death penalty if convicted.
State prosecutors relied heavily on testimony from Gosnell’s former staff members, who said they believed many of the babies born during late-term procedures were alive. They recounted seeing babies move, take breaths, and cry. Gosnell told them the movements were involuntary and that the babies were already dead, a claim reiterated in court by defense attorney Jack McMahon. But just in case, Gosnell routinely sliced the back of the babies’ necks “to ensure fetal demise.”
One of Gosnell’s staffers already pleaded guilty to killing a baby that stayed alive for about 20 minutes after a “botched” abortion procedure.
Prosecutors also claim Gosnell performed late-term abortions well past Pennsylvania’s 24-week limit, something McMahon argued the state had no evidence to prove. But testimony from Gosnell’s staffers and expert neonatologists about the size and development of the babies suggested several of them were almost full-term.
Gosnell’s abortion center became known as the “house of horrors” after he was arrested and charged with murder. State investigators cataloged equipment covered with blood and other fluids, rooms not cleaned between patients, and filthy, unsanitary conditions. They found containers with tiny body parts, and in several cases fully intact bodies in freezers and store rooms. Gosnell claimed he kept the specimens in case law enforcement officials ever needed DNA to substantiate an abuse case.
Lack of media attention for the Gosnell case enraged pro-life advocates, who said liberal publications and television outlets refused to report anything that made the abortion industry look bad. A social media campaign organized earlier this month succeeded in persuading dozens of news sites to publish coverage of the case, and in some cases pen editorials explaining why they hadn’t already done so.