Philadelphia clinic doctor's trial alters tactics of abortion debaters
For weeks, jurors in Philadelphia heard grim testimony about deaths and squalor in Dr. Kermit Gosnell's inner-city abortion clinic. While they listened, the murder case reverberated far beyond the courtroom, changing — at least for the moment — the tone of the national debate on abortion.
Groups supporting legal access to abortion, after major successes in the 2012 national elections, find themselves on the defensive as they distance themselves from Gosnell.
“All of us are appalled by the substandard illegal practices,” said Vicki Saporta, who as CEO of the National Abortion Federation represents hundreds of abortion clinics. “But to make the leap to say that's indicative of the state of abortion care throughout the U.S. is absolutely false.”
Anti-abortion activists, in contrast, are energized by the case, citing it in fundraising appeals and renewed efforts to expand state restrictions on abortion.
“It's very seldom we get such an opportunity to look at the realities of what's happening in abortion,” said Dr. Donna Harrison, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Gosnell, 72, is charged with killing five people — a patient and four viable babies that prosecutors say were born alive. Among scores of other counts, he also is accused of performing abortions after Pennsylvania's 24-week limit.
Jury deliberations began on April 30 and are scheduled to resume on Monday.
Anti-abortion groups have seized on the case as a chance to reach an audience beyond their regular followers. Those efforts were enhanced midway through the trial when abortion opponents used social media to accuse some national news outlets of a “blackout” of the case, resulting in increased news coverage.
The trial “shows people that abortion is about killing human beings that have arms and legs and in this case, a lot of attention has been focused on necks and spines that can be cut. They're alive and something has to be done to them to cause them to die,” said David O'Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Westmoreland County on pace to surpass record for drug-related fatalities
- Starkey: Burnett writing incredible final chapter
- Uber lowers fares in Pittsburgh
- Penn-Trafford summer camps focus on specific topics
- Pa. clearance fees to be waved for some school volunteers
- Policy to suspend employees with felony charges does not apply to Kane
- Norvelt residents try to preserve community history’s link to Roosevelts
- Triumph church empty no more as 3-year-old parish settles back in Sewickley
- PPG to conduct annual butterfly count at Monroeville location
- Mother of Wilkinsburg toddler found dead in ravine charged with her murder
- Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls will increase 6 percent next year