WASHINGTON, D.C., April 17, 2013 ( – During an interview broadcast this morning on the Today show, President Obama was asked about the trial of notorious abortionist Kermit Gosnell – and he declined to comment.

“Have you been watching the Gosnell trial?” asked co-host Savannah Guthrie. “Do you think it animates a larger debate about abortion in this country?”

“Well, I’m familiar with it. I can’t comment on it, because it’s an active trial,” the president replied.

“What I can say is this: I think President Clinton said it pretty well when he said abortion should be 'safe, legal, and rare.' If an individual carrying out an abortion, operating a clinic or doing anything else is violating medical ethics, violating the law, then they should be prosecuted,” he concluded.


His comments overlap with those of White House spokesman Jay Carney. On Monday, Carney stated, “The president does not and cannot take a position on an ongoing trial, so I won't, as well.” He also quoted Bill Clinton's statement, which poll-tested well in the 1990s.

Guthrie's question echoed one that Fox News reporter Ed Henry asked Carney on Monday. “Is there some legislative solution, or at least a conversation, that needs to happen in Washington, 'cause on guns you were just saying, 'We need common sense reform. We need to save lives.' In this case, do we need to be saving lives, as well?”

The question – posed by a member of the television media to the president of the United States – is a testimony to the power of conservative and pro-life activism. Some 21 conservative leaders signed a letter demanding coverage of the gruesome trial, and last Friday's tweetfest inspired mainstream media outlets to admit they had been wrong to ignore what one commentator called “the trial of the century.”

President Obama has not always refused to discuss ongoing legal matters. One month after the shooting of Trayvon Martin, he said, “it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together – federal, state and local – to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.”

He added, “that means that we examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident.”

In this morning's interview, the president said he felt “personally responsible” to pass gun control legislation in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.

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The new NBC interview – which covered topics including offering amnesty to illegal immigrants, tensions with North Korea, and the most recent budget proposal – was recorded hours before the Boston Marathon bombing but aired on Wednesday morning.