Just hours after the jury in the Kermit Gosnell case signaled it was deadlocked on two counts, it returned with a verdict, finding Gosnell guilty on three of four counts of first-degree murder. He was also found guilty on involuntary manslaughter charges involving the death of a female patient.
The verdict closes the first phase of a two-month trial that anti-choice activists quickly turned political, first attacking the media, then trying to make Gosnell an indictment on all abortion providers.
“Justice was served to Kermit Gosnell today and he will pay the price for the atrocities he committed,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, in a statement. “We hope that the lessons of the trial do not fade with the verdict. Anti-choice politicians, and their unrelenting efforts to deny women access to safe and legal abortion care, will only drive more women to back-alley butchers like Kermit Gosnell.”
The Gosnell case is an important reminder of the fact-finding function of our courts. Through the grand-jury report and trial testimony, the picture that emerged was of a man willing to prey on desperate patients and a system willing to at best drag its feet and at worst turn a blind eye because the victims were often poor women of color. This is a point made by Hogue:
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From the lack of funding available for low-income women to access abortion services, to the sharp decline of reputable providers in Pennsylvania, to the gross negligence of authorities to enforce the law after complaints were filed against Gosnell, each aspect of this case must be a teachable moment for lawmakers: until we reject the politicization of women’s medical care and leave these decisions where they belong—between a woman and her family and her doctor—women will never be safe. The horrifying story of Kermit Gosnell is a peek into the world before Roe v. Wade made legal a woman’s right to make her own choices.
With the conviction on multiple first-degree murder charges, Gosnell could face the death penalty. The jury will begin to hear testimony on Tuesday to determine whether or not Gonsell will go to death row.