White House says president can’t comment on Gosnell case

Rachel Rose Hartman

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday said President Barack Obama knows about the Philadelphia murder trial of former abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, but declined to offer specific comment.

Gosnell has been charged with third-degree murder in the 2009 death of Karnamaya Mongar, who prosecutors allege was given a lethal dosage of anesthesia and pain killers during an abortion at Gosnell’s clinic. He's also charged with killing seven babies. Among other things, he has been accused of snipping some babies' spinal cords with scissors to ensure their deaths.

In response to a question about the president's reaction to the case, Carney said Obama is "aware" of it, but "the president does not and cannot take a position on an ongoing trial, so I won't as well."

Carney said, "Certainly, the things that you hear and read about this case are unsettling."

The president in the past has commented on legal cases. When asked about the case of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, Obama, speaking in the Rose Garden, first noted that he had to be careful not to impair an investigation before calling Martin's death a tragedy and saying, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," among other comments. That case was under investigation at that time and not under trial.

The president has also commented on cases under review by the Supreme Court.