The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

April 29, 2013

Abortion doctor’s murder trial stirs debate on when life ends

PHILADELPHIA — The high-profile murder trial of a Philadelphia abortion provider sparked courtroom debate Monday over when life ends, a tweak of the politically charged question of when life begins.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, faces capital murder charges in the deaths of four aborted babies, described by prosecutors as viable, born alive and then killed at his busy West Philadelphia clinic.

In closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Ed Cameron called Gosnell’s operation an assembly line where a stream of poor, mostly minority women and teens endured hours of painful labor and delivery because Gosnell did not successfully abort babies in utero. He instead killed them with scissors after they were born, authorities said.

“Are you human?” Cameron asked Gosnell, “to med these women up and stick knives in the backs of babies?”

The doctor sat calmly at the defense table, as he has throughout the often graphic six-week trial.

Eight former workers have pleaded guilty to murder or other charges and have testified to seeing babies move, breathe or whine. Yet some said they did not consider the babies fully alive until they were charged after a 2011 grand jury investigation.

Defense lawyer Jack McMahon has seized on that point and argued again Monday that the occasional spasms the workers saw were not the wriggling movements of a newborn baby. And he said prosecutors preyed on workers’ emotions and fears to manipulate them into taking pleas that were not always warranted by the facts.

He acknowledged that jurors have seen graphic, even grisly, photographs of aborted babies and bloody medical equipment.

And he refused to back down from aggressive opening remarks in which he called prosecutors “elitist” and “racist” for pursuing his client, who is black and served mostly poor, minority women.

Gosnell also is charged with third-degree murder in the overdose death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, who came from Virginia for an abortion in 2009.

Among the 54 prosecution witnesses was another Philadelphia abortion provider who said he had performed 40,000 abortions over a 35-year career. He said he only performed abortions up until 22 weeks and did them after 17 weeks at a hospital.

By contrast, Gosnell performed third-term abortions and had two mentally unstable medical assistants and a teenager on duty delivering anesthesia the night Mongar came in, Cameron said.

“If that doesn’t tell you right away what kind of practice Dr. Gosnell ran, nothing will,” Cameron said.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local briefs 4/20/2014

    April 19, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 19, 2014

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 19, 2014

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads