Prosecutor to Gosnell: ‘Are You Human?’

Elizabeth Harrington | April 30, 2013 | 4:36am EDT
Font Size

The Women's Medical Society abortion clinic at 3801-05 Lancaster Avenue, Philadelphia, PA. (Grand Jury Report)

( – “Are you human?” Assistant District Attorney Ed Cameron asked Kermit Gosnell during closing arguments in the abortionist’s trial on Monday.

Cameron noted that during the six-week trial, “Mr. McMahon (the defense attorney) kept asking the witnesses, are you human?” That question really should be asked of Gosnell, Cameron said, turning to look directly at the defendant: “Are you human?” he asked.

Gosnell stared right back and laughed.

“To med these women up, to stick scissors in babies necks -- he’s the one in this case that doesn’t deserve to be called human,” Cameron said.

The trial of Gosnell entered its final phase on Monday, after lengthy closing arguments from defense attorney Jack McMahon and from prosecutor Cameron. Gosnell is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, for allegedly killing babies born alive during abortions by snipping their spinal cords with surgical scissors.

Cameron ended his closing argument with a plea to the jury to reach a guilty verdict. He quoted Steve Massof, an unlicensed medical graduate who worked at Gosnell’s clinic, the Women’s Medical Society in West Philadelphia:

“I felt like a fireman in hell,” Massof testified about the time he spent doing abortions late at night before Gosnell would arrive. “It was raining fetuses.”

“[Gosnell’s] the captain of that hell,” Cameron told the court. “It’s time for us to extinguish the hell he created.”

Cameron asked the jurors to “use their common sense” in determining whether the babies were born alive. Gosnell’s defense spent the morning arguing there was reasonable doubt that the four babies alleged to have been murdered were born alive.

“Why do you think there’s a hole in its head?” Cameron said.  “It was because that it was an added step to make sure that baby was dead.”

Cameron recalled clinic janitor Jim Johnson’s testimony that the clinic's toilet was constantly clogged up.  “You all know what that’s from, that’s from babies in the toilet,” he said.

“Maybe you’ve been desensitized by this case, but just the thought of using a plunger and having an arm and a leg come up,” Cameron told the jury.  He said Gosnell had no respect for the dead, putting fetal remains in the garbage disposal, the toilet, and the freezer.

Cameron also relayed the testimony of Shanice Manning, who was only 14 or 15 years old when her mother brought her into Gosnell’s clinic for an abortion.  She did not receive the required counseling before an abortion under Pennsylvania law, nor was the 24-hour waiting period applied.

Manning had to go to the hospital after complications, and that’s where the baby was stillborn.

“What she said in the hospital when the baby was stillborn was, ‘Can I see the baby?  Can I hold it?’” Cameron said.

“That is why you have to have counseling,” he said.  “To this day she regrets what happened.”

While still at the clinic, Manning had asked Gosnell what the sex of the baby was.  “Well, if you’re a good girl, maybe I’ll tell you,” Gosnell was quoted as saying.

“It’d be six years old,” Cameron said.  “It was not born alive, but he surely killed it,” he said.

“Baby Boy A” also was referenced. He was estimated to be 29-and-a-half weeks old, or about seven months’ gestation.  The baby was breathing for 10 to 20 seconds before its neck was cut by Gosnell, according to the grand jury report, and was placed in a shoebox.

Kareema Cross, a former employee of Gosnell’s, testified that the baby was moving even after his spinal cord was snipped.

“That baby would be four-and-a-half years old right now,” Cameron said.  “I wish to God it could walk into this courtroom.”  He said a baby that age would have a 70 to 80 percent chance of survival.

“But instead it had scissors jabbed into its neck and slowly suffocated to death,” he said.

“We don’t have to show you that the defendant is guilty beyond all doubt,” Cameron said, as he attempted to refute the arguments made by defense attorney McMahon earlier in the day.

McMahon said digoxin, a drug used to stop a baby’s heart inside the womb, was used in all cases where murder charges were brought.

But Cameron said no digoxin was found at the clinic by Crime Scene Unit Officer John Taggart.

“The use of the digoxin is an imagined doubt,” Cameron said.  “If it was being used, it was being used improperly, if at all.”

Gosnell, 72, is facing four counts of first-degree murder for killing babies born alive after abortions, and a third-degree murder charge in the anesthesia-overdose death of a patient, Karnamaya Mongar.

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

Cameron said Mongar was the “epitome of the American Dream,” living in a refugee camp in Nepal for nearly 20 years before finally making it to the United States, only to die “on a rusty table.”

“Or is it worse to be those babies, for months in your mother -- you live and come out into the light, all of that potential, you can survive—you heard the odds, 75 to 80 percent—and you have scissors jammed in your neck.”

“I don’t know what’s worse,” he said.

mrc merch