Abortion provider Kermit Gosnell was convicted Monday of three counts of first-degree murder for severing the spinal cords of infants born during abortions at his West Philadelphia clinic.
Gosnell also was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of 41-year-old Virginia woman Karnamaya Mongar, who died from an overdose of drugs while undergoing an abortion at the clinic. Prosecutors described the clinic as a “house of horrors” because of the unsanitary conditions and unsafe practices that defined it.
Gosnell faced more than 250 other counts. After rendering verdicts on them, the jury will return to deliberations to decide whether he should receive the death penalty.
The coverage of the verdict by every major news outlet stands in contrast to their ignoring the story until conservative media hounded them into covering it. But the implications are now unavoidable. There are at least five issues the media and politicians will face:
1. Should the Supreme Court and state legislatures move back the date (say to 20 weeks) after which abortions cannot be performed? Interestingly, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently reiterated her view that Roe v. Wade was unwisely broad and gave opponents of abortion an inviting target:
Ginsburg would have rather seen the justices make a narrower decision in 1973, one that struck down only the Texas law that brought the matter before the court. That law allowed abortions only to save a mother’s life.
A more restrained judgment would have sent a message while allowing momentum to build at a time when a number of states were expanding abortion rights, she said. She added that it might also have denied opponents the argument that abortion rights resulted from an undemocratic process in the decision by “unelected old men.”
Ginsburg told the students she prefers what she termed “judicial restraint” and argued that such an approach can be more effective than expansive, aggressive decisions.
“The court can put its stamp of approval on the side of change and let that change develop in the political process,” she said.
Consider late-term abortions another aspect of the court’s overreach, an issue once again before the courts.
2. The president’s support for abortion on demand and past opposition to “infant-born-alive” statutes will put him and other Democrats in a tight spot.
3. Opponents of abortion can rightly claim consensus on banning late-term abortions. For once, the “extremists” are plainly on the left.
4. The coverage of abortion regulation and the impetus to regulate facilities may shift.
5. In the middle of Benghazi, Obamacare and the IRS scandal, the Gosnell matter and coverage of abortion in general tested the independence and competence of the mainstream media. So far, they are getting a failing grade.
Abortion lobbyists will claim we need to have easy access to late-term abortions to prevent quacks like Gosnell from flourishing. But that argument is a lot less credible now with 21st-century technology that allows us to treat infants in the womb and to see their humanity firsthand. In pulling back the curtain on a practice many Americans consider barbaric, the Gosnell trial will, I believe, have long-term implications for the abortion debate. It’s about time.