J. D. Mullane has been a star reporter during the Gosnell trial, providing timely updates — often over Twitter — from the Philadelphia courtroom. In an interview with National Review Online, he reflects on the trial and what it lays bare about the brutality of abortion.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Are you surprised by the verdict?
J. D. MULLANE: No. The evidence was compelling, the key witnesses — which were most of them – were credible, and Dr. Gosnell did not present a defense.
LOPEZ: Looking back, was there a pivotal moment in the trial?
MULLANE: When Gosnell’s lawyer, Jack McMahon, said ”the defense rests” without offering a single defense witness. Even some of the jurors looked at each other, surprised.
LOPEZ: When did you first hear the name Kermit Gosnell?
MULLANE: When he was indicted by the Philadelphia grand jury in 2011. Here in southeastern Pennsylvania, he was huge news, mainly because district attorney Seth Williams’s grand-jury report is so chilling in its horror. If you are prone to nightmares, do not read it.
LOPEZ: How did Pennsylvania ever let this happen?
MULLANE: Pa.’s ex-governor, Tom Ridge is, to me, Gosnell’s chief enabler. Ridge is a pro-choice Republican and it was his administration that decided to halt annual inspections of Pennsylvania’s abortion clinics. This happened because the Ridge administration felt shoddier clinics like Gosnell’s would be forced to close if inspectors from the state department of health came through and did their jobs. Closing clinics would create a “barrier” for women seeking abortions, and Ridge didn’t want that. Though Tom Ridge is a chatty guy, he has maintained radio silence on Gosnell. Now you know why.
LOPEZ: How do you cover a case like this?
MULLANE: Lying awake many nights.
LOPEZ: Besides just not covering it at all initially, what is the national media largely missing about this case?
MULLANE: The barbarity of abortion and its cold, mechanized destruction of human life when that life is at its most helpless. You know, assistant DA Ed Cameron put a Planned Parenthood abortion doctor on the stand to compare and contrast a “good” abortion clinic to the hell hole Gosnell was running. Cameron asks him, doctor, how many abortions have you performed in 30 years in practice? Without missing a beat the doctor said, “40,000.” It’s a stunning number. Think of the lives vanished by one man. And the national media yawn.
LOPEZ: Do you ever get used to the graphic brutality of the details in this case?
MULLANE: No. I wish I could be like most of the country and just close my eyes to it, but I can’t.
LOPEZ: Were you surprised that Gosnell never took the stand?
MULLANE: Yes. I have seen guys like this at murder trials. Their weakness is ego. They are the smartest guys in the room, with an abiding belief in their ability to persuade. I mean, Gosnell convinced his employees to snip the necks of babies born alive, so there you go. But then they get on the witness stand it all falls apart. Fortunately, Gosnell allowed Jack McMahon, a superb trial lawyer, to call the shots. Jack knew one question from the prosecutors would blow up his whole defense: “Dr. Gosnell, if these babies were dead, why did you snip their necks?” It would have been a disaster.
LOPEZ: What is the most underappreciated fact about this case?
MULLANE: That nine of the twelve jurors told the judge during jury selection that they are pro-choice on abortion.
LOPEZ: What’s next?
MULLANE: Dr. Gosnell faces a penalty hearing that begins May 21. The same jury that found him guilty of first-degree murder will decide if he gets life in prison or the death penalty by lethal injection. Immediately after, he exchanges prison jumpsuits and the feds take him to trial for running a pill mill from his clinic in Philadelphia. The trial is set for September. No matter the outcome of the federal trial, Kermit Gosnell, 72, will die in prison, if he doesn’t die by lethal injection first.