Virtual Voices
Karnamaya Mongar and her husband.
Associated Press/Philadelphia District Attorney
Karnamaya Mongar and her husband.

Life and death arguments at the Gosnell trial

Abortion

PHILADELPHIA—Storing an aborted baby for disposal in “a cherry limeade container” is idiosyncratic, but can you convict someone for it? Hospital pathology waste bags for sliced-and-diced and brain-suctioned babies are considered more professional, but are they?

Like a gruesome cache from a Twilight Zone food bank, dead babies in red and blue plastic bags, confiscated from a freezer at Kermit Gosnell’s abortion center (meant to be a temporary solution during a dispute with his medical waste disposal company) after the 2010 FBI raid, were delivered to the lab of Philadelphia’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Sam Gulino.

The prosecution and defense battled for hours in the courtroom yesterday, the former trying to prove the contents of those bags were born alive and then killed, the defense picking holes in the argument, pointing out that Gulino never wrote out birth and death certificates for them, which would be the legal procedure if he had determined they were briefly alive. Gulino admitted that the freezing and subsequent thawing of human flesh complicates post-mortem assessments, making for lack of precision in estimating gestational age and cause of death. Climactically, defense attorney Jack McMahon got Gulino to admit he could not testify that any one of the 47 babies was born alive.

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Once again the paragon of virtue trotted out by the district attorney as a foil for Gosnell’s monstrousness was another abortionist, Charles David Benjamin, who has 40,000 abortions under his belt in the 33 years of his practice, thus impressing us with his expertise as a witness. Benjamin was proud to have a National Abortion Federation-certified facility and boasted that his ultrasound machine was newer than Gosnell’s. Benjamin is one of only three or four abortionists in Philadelphia.

It was discovered in defense cross-examination that Benjamin's abortion practice shares a dubious distinction with Gosnell's, the loss of one patient in roughly three decades. A patient of Benjamin's partner died of sepsis; Gosnell’s casualty is Karnamaya Mongar, for whom he faces murder charges. The defense showed incredulity regarding the change in Mongar’s death certificate from “accidental” to “homicide,” as a result of new information given to medial examiner Dr. Gary Collins by the DA’s office.

It appeared yesterday morning that either everybody got their taxes done or the public outcry over the thin coverage of the Gosnell trial brought out droves of men in black with notebook and pen. I learned from the new reporter sitting next to me that his newspaper’s offices are upstairs! Nice of him to take the elevator down. Two rows of the gallery were filled yesterday by students ages 11 through 19, whom their pastor told me were part of a Friday night social justice group. You might want to pray that God keeps them from seeing monsters in their dreams.

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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