By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
An abortionist accused of running a “house of horrors” abortuary in Philadelphia that left one woman and scores of infants dead, pled not guilty at an arraignment hearing yesterday where prosecutors indicated they may seek the death penalty in a case that horrified the nation.
LifeNews.com is reporting that prosecutors are considering the maximum penalty for Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the abortionist accused of killing a 41 year-old woman in a botched abortion, and for purposely birthing dozens of late-term babies who were then killed by cutting their spinal cords with a scissor. Several other employees who allegedly assisted Gosnell or covered up his crimes are also facing charges in the case.
Assistant District Attorneys Joanne Pescatore and Christine Wechsler confirmed to the Philadelphia Inquirer that they are considering a punishment of death by lethal injection if a jury finds Gosnell guilty of first-degree murder in any of the counts he is currently facing. Gosnell has also been charged with third-degree murder in a case involving a woman who died in November, 2009 after overdosing on anesthetics prescribed by Gosnell.
Gosnell pled not guilty in court yesterday and his lawyer, Jack McMahon, called the prosecution’s pursuit of the death penalty a waste.
“I mean the last execution in Pennsylvania was in 1999 for somebody who wanted it, so the reality of a 70-year-old man actually getting it isn’t a reality – again it’s in name only,” he said.
The family of the woman Gosnell killed has filed a civil suit against him and his abortion business for damages, and a judge recently decided that Gosnell cannot sell off his homes and other assets to avoid paying damages if he loses the case. Gosnell is believed to have made millions during his many years in the abortion industry.
A final decision on whether or not to pursue the death penalty will be made after both sides have had a chance to present evidence to support their cases.
Gosnell’s case caused widespread indignation about lax abortion clinic regulation and resulted in the outright suspension of two other abortion clinics, one Delaware and another in Louisiana, in which Gosnell served as an abortionist.
Authorities searching Gosnell’s Philadelphia facility last year found bags and bottles holding aborted babies scattered around the building, jars containing babies’ severed feet lining a shelf, as well as filthy, unsanitary furniture and equipment.
The grand jury investigation also shows state officials did nothing about reported problems at Gosnell’s abortion center. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has already fired several state employees involved in the case.
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1. Everyone wants to see justice done in the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, but is imposing the death penalty truely just? What does the Church teach about the death penalty? (See the Catechism Nos. 2266-2267)
2. Under what conditions is the death penalty acceptable? (See Catechism Nos. 2266-2267)
3. What is the primary purpose of the punishment inflicted on a criminal? (See Evangelium Vitae Nos. 55-56)
4. Applying what you have learned to the Gosnell case, do you believe a “bloodless” punishment such as life in prison is sufficient to protect us from any further harm he might pose to society?
5. What are your personal feelings about the death penalty? How do they square with Church teaching?