White House on Gosnell Abortion Trial: No Comment

The White House was asked a question about the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell Monday. Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president is aware of the atrocities revealed in the trial but will not comment on the issues raised because it is an ongoing trial.

"The president is aware of [the Gosnell trial], ... [he] does not and cannot take a position on an ongoing trial. ... Certainly, the things you hear and read about this case are unsettling, but I can't comment further on an ongoing legal proceeding," Carney said.

Fox News Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry followed up by reminding Carney that President Barack Obama, in 2003 when he was an Illinois state senator, opposed a bill that made it a crime to kill a baby born alive as the result of a botched abortion – the same crime that Gosnell is on trial for.

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"The president at the time said he couldn't support [the bill] because he felt like any doctor in that situation would take care of a child. When you hear this kind of evidence, it suggests that there's at least one doctor who apparently did not. ... Is there some legislative solution, or at least a conversation that needs to happen, because on guns, you were just saying, we need common sense reform, we need to save lives. In this case, do we need to save lives as well?" Henry asked.

Carney again repeated that he cannot comment because it is an ongoing trial.

"The president's position on choice is very clear. His position on the basic principle that, as President Clinton said, abortions ought to be safe, legal and rare is very clear," Carney added.

During Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, he claimed that he supported the federal Born Alive Infants Protection Act and only opposed the state level bill because it was trying to undermine Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. In an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network, he accused pro-life groups of "lying" when they said he opposed a bill that was the same as the federal Born Alive Infants Protection Act. Three different fact-checkers – The Washington Post, PolitiFact, and  – found Obama's claims to be false at the time; he did oppose a bill that was essentially identical to the federal Born Alive Infants Protection Act.

The White House has not been consistent in its position about not commenting on issues when there is an ongoing trial. In March of last year, for instance, he spoke about Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead by George Zimmerman. Some accused Zimmerman of being motivated by racism while Zimmerman claimed he was acting in self-defense. Obama's remarks suggested that he had decided that Zimmerman's accusers were correct, even though the investigation was ongoing and the trial had not even begun.

"My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon, and when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids," Obama said.

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