Kirsten Andersen

Closing arguments heard in Gosnell trial, defense lawyer says “House of Horrors” is nothing but hype

Kirsten Andersen
Kirsten Andersen
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Kirsten Anderson reports directly from Philadelphia after attending today's court proceedings

PHILADELPHIA, April 29, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Closing arguments began today in the capital murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who stands accused of murdering three babies born alive at his West Philadelphia abortion clinic.  Workers at the clinic testified that they and Gosnell routinely severed the spinal cords of babies born alive after late-term abortions using scissors, a process they called “snipping.”  Gosnell is also facing a third-degree murder charge for the death of Karnamaya Mongar, a Bhutanese refugee who was given a lethal overdose of narcotic pain medication.

The main point of contention in the capital murder case is whether the babies whose necks were severed by Gosnell and his staff were alive or dead when those injuries occurred.  Defense attorney Jack McMahon claims that it would have been impossible for the babies – whom workers testified they saw move and even scream – to be alive at birth because they received injections of Digoxin, a toxin designed to stop the heart from beating. 

But Assistant District Attorney Ed Cameron said that during the FBI drug raid that first uncovered the filthy conditions at the clinic back in 2010, Digoxin was not among the drugs found on the premises.  Cameron also reminded jurors that clinic workers said Gosnell often missed the heart when giving injections, and that Digoxin “never worked.  The heart was always beating.”

Defense attorney McMahon accused the City of Philadelphia of running a “racist” prosecution against his client, who is black.  He said Gosnell “offered a service” to the low-income, largely minority clientele of his abortion business that they would otherwise have been unable to afford.  He accused the prosecution of elitism for comparing the cut-rate conditions at Gosnell’s filthy inner-city abortion clinic – where equipment was outdated and unsterile, gloves were reused across patients, and flea-ridden cats roamed and defecated freely – to the same standards as surgical centers serving wealthier neighborhoods. 

Gosnell “never turned away” desperate young girls who came to his clinic seeking abortions, said McMahon, even after 24 weeks, which is the legal cut-off for abortions in Pennsylvania.  “He offered relief … a solution to their problem,” McMahon said.   Gosnell is also facing 23 counts of performing illegal late-term abortions. 

“I’m not going to say that didn’t happen,” McMahon told jurors.  “I’d be lying to you if I did.”  But he argued that the government had not provided enough physical evidence with which to convict his client, and told jurors that a “not-guilty” verdict was not the same as finding Gosnell innocent. 

“’Not guilty’ just means ‘not proven,’” McMahon said.  “It doesn’t mean innocent.” 

McMahon acknowledged that the two-month long trial had been an emotional one, marked by horrifying testimonies and images of dead babies with holes in their necks.  “If it didn’t affect you, there would be something wrong with you,” he told the jury, but urged them to resist what he called a “tsunami” of “hype” against Gosnell.  He accused the prosecution of exaggerating the severity of the squalor inside the abortion center, claiming that the “House of Horrors” label it earned from prosecutors was “the most extraordinary hype and exaggeration in the history of the criminal justice system.”

He also said it was a distraction. 

“You can commit murder in the cleanest place in the world,” McMahon said.

Both McMahon and Assistant D.A. Cameron denied that the trial had anything to do with abortion.

“This is not a referendum on abortion,” said McMahon.  “Abortion isn’t pretty … it’s not.  It’s bloody and it’s real.”

Said Cameron, “Abortion is legal … as long as you follow the rules.”  But he said Gosnell performed “back-alley, coat-hanger abortions.”

Regardless of both attorneys’ insistence that the case has nothing to do with legal abortion, pro-life activists are pointing to the case as an example of the semantic gymnastics surrounding the issue. Not even Gosnell’s defense lawyer denies Gosnell was killing babies.  Over and over again, McMahon told the jury that babies were injected with Digoxin, which he called “the killing drug” in order “to kill the babies intrauteral [sic].”   But according to state law, as long as those deaths occurred in utero, they were not murder.  He said the burden was on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the babies had survived until birth. 

The distinction “is maybe a 15-minute or half-hour time frame and 10 inches of physical space,” Michael Geer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, told the New York Times. “I think it’s going to resurrect a debate about the humanity of the unborn child.”

As the day began, a lone pro-abortion protester stood in the rain in front of the Juanita Kidd Criminal Justice Center holding a sign that read “More restrictions = More Gosnells.” 

But attorney Jeanneane Maxon of Americans United for Life spoke to reporters outside the court Monday and said her organization plans to use the Gosnell case to push for additional safety legislation for abortion, including Born Alive Infant Protection laws to mandate lifesaving treatment for babies who survive attempted abortions, and stricter standards for abortion facilities.

“This is today’s back-alley abortion situation,” Maxon said of Gosnell.  “This is not an aberration.  Situations like Kermit Gosnell occur across the country.”  She said that in the last three years, fifteen states have had abortionists under investigation for similar crimes.

Maxon said she doubted Gosnell’s lawyer’s claim that only dead babies had their necks “snipped.”  “Why are they snipping the backs of the necks of these babies if they were not born alive?” she asked reporters. 

She alleged that at one point during the trial, McMahon said “We don’t have the answers [as to why their necks were snipped].  Maybe they were feeling pain.”

Said Maxon, “Why would a dead baby feel pain?”

Now that the trial has come to a close, the jury will have to decide whether to find Gosnell guilty of murder. If they find him guilty of the three counts of murdering infants, he could face the death penalty

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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