Obama won’t comment on Gosnell case

President Obama will not comment on the trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell because the trial is ongoing, a spokesman said Monday.

"The president does not and cannot take a position on an ongoing trial, so I won't as well," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters when asked about the trial.

However, Carney said, the president is "aware" of the case. "Certainly, the things that you hear and read about this case are unsettling," he added. "But I can't comment further on an ongoing legal proceeding."

Asked if there was any legislation or reform that should come out of the case, Carney again declined to comment. "The president's position on choice is very clear," he said. "His position on the basic principle is that, as President Clinton said, abortions ought to be safe, legal and rare is very clear."

Gosnell's trial, which has been going on for the past month, has recently attracted attention from conservatives. The doctor is charged with murder in the deaths of seven babies, whom prosecutors allege were killed with scissors, and one female patient. Former workers at Gosnell's clinic have testified to gruesome practices in dangerous conditions.

The White House has declined to comment on ongoing investigations before. Last year the president weighed in on the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, saying, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” But Obama gave that response only after Justice Department officials informed White House aides that it was not improper to do so and said he was speaking carefully to avoid "impairing" an ongoing investigation. In that case, Carney initially told reporters that the White House was "not going to wade into a local law enforcement matter."

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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Rachel Weiner · April 15, 2013