Friday, May 17, 2013

Seth Williams on the Gosnell Case: What About the Mothers?

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams held a press conference in the wake of Kermit Gosnell's sentencing, and he has so much to say that I'd like to respond. I've already responded to the infanticide aspects -- both Williams' assertion that the case was "groundbreaking" and that Gosnell's sentence would deter other abortionists from slaying live-born infants.

I'll set aside his recounting of the deplorable conditions and practices at Gosnell's mill. An entire book could be written about how disgusting and degrading abortion facilities too often are. Instead, I'll turn to a question raised after Williams made his prepared statement.

I could not hear the question, asked in a woman's voice, but by Williams' response, the reporter asked about why there were no charges filed against the mothers who had in essence handed their babies' lives over to Gosnell.

Williams started by pointing out that there are no legal grounds in Pennsylvania to prosecute a woman seeking what is a legal abortion procedure. As for the women who were beyond the 24-week Pennsylvania limit, prosecutors would have had to be able to prove that the woman knew that she was carrying a viable baby, that the baby in question would be born alive, and that Gosnell would then kill it after birth. As Williams said, that was probably not something Gosnell (or his staff) would have pointed out to the patient during the informed consent process.

I wonder, though, about what legal options he would have felt he had if it could be proved that the women knew that the babies were past the age of viability and that if they were born alive Gosnell would n some unspecified way ensure that there was no live baby to deal with regardless of what condition the baby was in when it emerged. Members of the jury had expressed disgust that the mothers who "waited so long" weren't on trial with Gosnell, so evidently even among the vehemently "prochoice" there is room for judgment against a woman aborting what she knows is a healthy, viable baby -- at least if the baby ends up born alive then murdered.

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