Warning: graphic material in following article.
A group of national pro-life leaders plan to hold a prayer vigil outside the Philadelphia courthouse where abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell is being tried for murder as closing arguments in the case begin Monday.
"We will be gathering in prayer and public witness to ask God that these violent and barbaric acts of violence against women and children would be brought to justice," said the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition. "We will also be praying that we would live in a nation where human rights and equality would be guaranteed and embraced for all and we would never have to witness atrocities like this again."
Gosnell, a late-term abortion provider in Pennsylvania, is charged with killing seven babies after they were born, reportedly targeting poor women who could not afford better health care. Although the accounts of what went on in his abortion facility have been gruesomely graphic and been made public since the court hearing began, it is only recently that major news outlets began their coverage of the case.
Pro-life leaders argue that such activities, which include routinely aborting and killing babies in the sixth and seventh month of pregnancy, are not unique to Gosnell's clinic.
"Sadly, the tragedy and horror surrounding the actions of Kermit Gosnell show that government officials and the pro-choice movement are more interested in protecting abortion rights than they are protecting the rights and health of women and their children," Mahoney said.
In addition to Mahoney, whose group is based in Washington, D.C., those planning to join the pray vigil include Fr. Terry Gensemer of CEC For Life headquartered in Long Island, N.Y., and Troy Newman and Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas.
A press conference is planned for noon on Monday before the vigil begins, organizers stated on Thursday. The group is asking others in the U.S. to join in prayer and fasting.
"The decision this jury hands down is going to be a pivotal and defining moment in the history of human rights," said Gensemer. "When we stand outside of that court room on Monday, we will be praying that justice will prevail and that the innate human dignity of the women and children horrifically brutalized inside Gosnell's 'shop of horrors' will be recognized and upheld."
Judge Jeffrey Minehart dropped three of the first-degree murder charges against Gosnell on Tuesday after defense attorney Jack McMahon argued that the medical examiner wasn't able to prove that the babies had been born alive, due to their bodies' condition after having been frozen inside freezers at Gosnell's clinic.
Gosnell, 72, could receive the death penalty if the jury finds him guilty of murder charges. He faces four counts of first-degree murder for allegedly killing babies who were born alive; and one count of third-degree murder for the death of Karnamaya Monger, a 41-year-old refugee who died in 2009 from a Demerol overdose administered to her at the Women's Medical Society abortion clinic that he owned and operated for 40 years in West Philadelphia.
Former employees have testified to seeing babies born alive and breathing before Gosnell "snipped" their necks and gashed their spinal cords with scissors.
"We remain acutely aware that abortion clinics across America are operating in Gosnell-like conditions committing violations that Gosnell also committed," Newman said. "We will continue to pray for justice in the Gosnell case and that all abortionists of his ilk will soon be brought to justice. May the Gosnell case speed the day when abortion is abolished in this country for good."
The Philadelphia courthouse where the trial is taking place and the vigil is planned is located at 1301 Filbert Street.