Published April 17, 2013
Twenty months in a refugee camp in war-torn Bhutan didn’t break Karnamaya Mongar. But the 41-year-old Virginia woman met her demise in 2009 after seeking an abortion from a Philadelphia doctor who could face the death penalty if convicted on seven counts of first-degree murder.
Through a Nepalese interpreter, Mongar’s daughter, Yashoda Gurung, testified Tuesday in the ongoing trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, about the labor-inducing drugs and painkiller her mother was administered while awaiting the abortion provider to arrive for the second-trimester procedure. Gurung, 24, said she tried to wish her mother well before she was moved into the procedure room on Nov. 19, 2009, at the Women’s Medical Society clinic in West Philadelphia.
“My mom was sleeping,” Gurung told jurors through a translator. “That’s what I thought. I tried to wake her up and the lady said, ‘Leave her alone.’”
Prosecutors allege Gosnell’s untrained, unlicensed staff gave Mongar a fatal combination of oral and intravenous drugs and failed to properly monitor her vital signs. She went into cardiac arrest and a coma and died the following day. Gosnell’s attorney, Jack McMahon, has countered that Mongar, who was 19 weeks pregnant at the time, had unreported respiratory damage and died of complications.
Gosnell faces a third-degree murder charge in Mongar’s death. He is also charged with seven counts of first-degree murder for infants who were allegedly born alive and were killed by suffering severed spinal cords at Gosnell’s hands. The graphic trial, now in its fifth week, has led some conservative critics at the Media Research Center and other organizations to claim that most mainstream media outlets were slow to cover Gosnell’s alleged crimes because they run counter to supposed widely held support for abortion rights.
Damber Ghalley, Mongar’s brother, testified Tuesday he was told Mongar’s situation was “bad” when she arrived for the procedure. Ghalley said she spoke to Gosnell as she was being led to an ambulance.
“He said, ‘The procedure was done,” he told jurors. “Your sister’s heart stopped.”
Ghalley testified he saw Gosnell the following day outside the hospital where his sister died.
“He said the same thing: The procedure was done. I didn’t do anything wrong,” Ghalley said. “I would be able to answer [to] any person, anywhere. He did not express sympathy.”
Gosnell, who faces a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Mongar’s relatives, is also charged with violating Pennsylvania’s abortion law for allegedly performing abortions after 24 weeks. Some observers have said the trial highlights the difficulty to get an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, or the end of the second trimester. A clinic near Mongar’s home in Woodbridge, Va., reportedly did not perform abortions after 14 weeks.
A janitor and handyman at the clinic -- which catered to minorities, the impoverished and women with late-term pregnancies -- also testified Tuesday, saying the facility had frequent plumbing problems and that toilets backed up weekly.
“I told the doc I would remove the toilet and lay it on its side, but somebody else would have to clean that out,” James Johnson testified.
Johnson’s shocking testimony solicited tears from some courtroom onlookers, including Day Gardner, president of the Washington-based National Black ProLife Coalition, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
In a petition on its website, the conservative Media Research Center called on broadcast networks to stop “censoring” coverage of the sensational trial. Networks like ABC and NBC have given the story “zero coverage” during morning and evening shows and CBS finally ended its coverage blackout on April 15, a month after opening arguments began, MRC officials claim.
“It is clear why the liberal media would not want this story to get out — because it would expose the American people to the truth about the horrific and ghastly practices of abortionists and compel everyone with a sense of decency to call for an end to such practices,” the petition read. “But that is in direct opposition to the liberal media's agenda — and that is why they won't cover it.”
The petition also cited an op-ed that appeared in USA Today on April 11 by columnist Kirsten Powers, who is also a Fox News contributor.
"Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A child screaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure,” Powers wrote. “Haven't heard about these sickening accusations?”
A Lexis-Nexis search of the news shows on the three major television networks found that none had mentioned the Gosnell trial in the last three months. The lone exception was Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan’s take on a "Meet the Press" segment, according to Powers.
"It's not your fault,” Powers continued. “Since the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell began March 18, there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on every news show and front page."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.