Defense Attorney: Prosecution of Gosnell Is 'Elitist, Racist'

Elizabeth Harrington | April 29, 2013 | 3:11pm EDT
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Dr. Kermit Gosnell, charged with 4 counts of first-degree murder, killing babies reportedly born alive at his abortion office in West Philadelphia, Pa. (AP)

(Warning: Some of the photos in this story are graphic.)

( – Defense lawyer Jack McMahon delivered his closing argument on behalf of abortionist Kermit Gosnell on Monday, accusing  prosecutors of “manipulating” the case to engage in an essentially “racist” prosecution of the man charged with four counts of first-degree murder, killing babies born alive during abortions by snipping their spinal cords with surgical scissors.

“Never have I seen the presumption of innocence so trampled on, stomped on,” said McMahon in court today, adding that the Philadelphia district attorney’s office “tried to manipulate everybody” and was pursuing an “elitist, racist prosecution.”

“Dr. Gosnell is not the only one doing abortions in Philadelphia,” McMahon said, “but he was an African American singled out for prosecution.”

“We know why he was targeted,” he said.  “If you can’t see that reality, you’re living in some sort of la-la land.”

Speaking for nearly two hours before the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, McMahon painted Gosnell as a doctor who cared for his community “providing a service” to vulnerable young girls.

Gosnell “provided a service to the community,” where people would “pay what they could” and often give paper IOU’s, McMahon said.

Baby Boy B, with slit neck, discovered by police at the abortion office of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the Women's Medical Society in West Philadelphia, Pa. (Photo: Grand Jury Report.)

“He knew what he was doing, he was giving this community health care they might not have otherwise had,” he said.

“He never turned away a desperate, troubled young lady because they didn’t have enough money,” McMahon said.

He talked about 13-  and 14-year-old “desperate young girls.”

“And who comes to help them?” McMahon asked.  “Dr. Gosnell.”

“He gave them a solution to their problem,” he said.  “They went in for a service and Dr. Gosnell got it done.”

Gosnell, 72, is facing four counts of first-degree murder for the killing of babies born alive after abortions, and a third-degree murder charge in the anesthesia-overdose death of a mother, Karnamaya Mongar, at his clinic the Women’s Medical Society in West Philadelphia.

He is also charged with infanticide, conspiracy, abortion at 24 or more weeks, theft, corruption of minors, solicitation and other related offenses.

The grand jury report presented in the case asserted that Gosnell killed "hundreds" of babies over the years, by cutting their spinal cords with scissors after they survived late-term abortions.

The six-week long trial is in its final days, with closing arguments by McMahon and the prosecution set for Monday afternoon.

Fetal remains in a freezer in the Women's Medical Society abortion clinic run by Dr. Kermit Gosnell. (Grand Jury Report.)

McMahon accused the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office of bringing a “tsunami” of fear surrounding the trial.  “Never have I seen the presumption of innocence so trampled on, stomped on,” he said.

McMahon asked the jurors to rule on the case based on evidence and not emotion, arguing that the babies in the four murder charges against Gosnell were not born alive.  McMahon said in each case the mother’s were injected with digoxin, a drug that is supposed to stop the baby’s heart beat inside the womb.

He also repeated his point that one movement does not indicate a baby is born alive, despite testimony that a baby was born in the toilet, “swimming, trying to get out.”

McMahon also discouraged the jury to issue a ruling based on their personal feelings of the abortion issue, saying this case is “not about abortion.”

“This is not a referendum on abortion,” he said.  “One thing I’ve learned about abortion—as is any surgical procedure—is it isn’t pretty.”

Baby girl aborted at office of Dr. Kermit Gosnell in West Philadelphia, Pa. (Photo: Grand Jury Report, First Judicial District of Pennsylvania.)

He argued the murder charges against Gosnell are “four isolated incidents” at a clinic that performed “thousands and thousands of abortions,” and “20 to 30 a day.”

McMahon ended his closing argument citing the book “Profiles in Courage,” by John F. Kennedy, which he said he read as a boy, asking the jury to acquit Gosnell.

“I’m asking you to have the courage to say no to the government, to embrace the true facts, not what the government wants them to be,” he said.

“If you demonstrate this courage you will have shown that you have courage to the world,” McMahon said.

You can have “pride and satisfaction that you yourself are a profile in courage,” he said.

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