WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama is keeping abreast of the ongoing murder trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, but the White House is steering clear of delving too deeply into the case.
Gosnell, who is on trial in Philadelphia, has been charged in the murder of a woman during a botched abortion, as well as the murders of seven babies born alive.
“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 said on Monday.
Obama is “aware” of the case but it would be inappropriate for the president or White House to weigh in on an ongoing legal proceeding, Carney added.
“Certainly, the things that you hear and read about this case are unsettling,” he added.
The trial is in its fifth week. Former employees have described doing ultrasounds, giving intravenous drugs and helping with abortions, even though they lacked medical training or certification, in unsanitary conditions.
One unlicensed doctor, Stephen Massof, testified that Gosnell taught him to cut the necks of babies after they were born to ensure the babies died. Massof has pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree murder, and seven other former employees of the unlicensed Philadelphia clinic have also been convicted in the case.
Gosnell’s defense attorney says no babies were born alive and that the patient died from unexpected complications.
The trial started March 18, but initially received little national media attention. That changed after an opinion column in Thursday’s USA Today in which contributor Kirsten Powers criticized major media outlets for ignoring the trial.
(Aamer Madhani writes for USA Today)