Speaking for the first time about the murder trial of an abortionist in Philadelphia, President Obama said Wednesday that any abortion provider who violates the law should be prosecuted.
“If an individual carrying out an abortion, operating a clinic or doing anything else is violating medical ethics, violating the law, then they should be prosecuted,” Mr. Obama said on NBC’s “Today” show.
It was his first comment on the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who operated an abortion clinic in a poor neighborhood in Philadelphia and is charged with killing live late-term fetuses after removing them from the womb, among other offenses.
Mr. Obama said he is “familiar” with the case but added, “I can’t comment on it because it’s an active trial.”
Asked about his own views on abortion, Mr. Obama said, “I think President Clinton said it pretty well when he said abortion should be safe, legal and rare.”
As an Illinois state senator in 2003, Mr. Obama voted against several bills that would have provided legal protection to babies who survived an abortion. He said during a debate on one of those bills that he had confidence that doctors would do whatever was necessary to keep an infant alive after birth.
The Illinois bills were attempted after nurses like Jill Stanek and Allison Baker testified that abortion providers allowed infants who were born alive to be left on hospital counters or in rooms, where they sometimes took an hour or more to die.
His campaign documents later said he voted against such “born-alive infants protection” bills because they would undermine Roe v. Wade, which made abortion a federal constitutional right. One of the Illinois bills he voted against specified that no provision of it should be construed as denying federal abortion rights.
• Cheryl Wetzstein contributed to this report.