Prayer groups stage vigil for ‘Gosnell babies’ at Laurel Hill burial site

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Anti-abortion activists gathered Wednesday at a Philadelphia cemetery to praise – and scorn – the city’s decision to quietly bury the human remains police found at Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s abortion clinic in 2013.

Gosnell was convicted of first-degree murder for delivering and then killing three babies inside his West Philadelphia clinic, dubbed by prosecutors a “house of horrors” for its deplorable, unsanitary conditions.

Police removed the remains of nearly 50 babies and fetuses during a grisly investigation that garnered national media attention.

Nearly two years ago, the city quietly cremated and buried those remains at Laurel Hill Cemetery in East Falls. That occurred as abortion opponents from around the country called on the city to release the remains so the “Gosnell babies” could be given a funeral.

In the shade of the cemetery’s vaulted, stone entrance off Ridge Avenue, Catherine Glenn Foster, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, said she’s pleased the remains weren’t left in the city morgue.

“To give these babies in death, the dignity that they did not get in life – it’s the right thing to do for any child, for any person,” said Foster. “It’s what a civilized society does, and these babies deserved nothing less.”

Others in the crowd, though, are still upset that the city refused to release the remains or make a public announcement about the burial at Laurel Hill.

“We came for months after months seeking these children in love. They were not unclaimed. They were wanted. They were desired. They had meaning and purpose,” said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition.

A representative of the city Medical Examiner’s Office says it’s standard procedure to cremate remains that are unclaimed by families and eventually bury them at Laurel Hill. What’s more, the city has never before made public announcements when these burials take place.

Following a short press conference, participants huddled around a sunny patch of grass at the burial site for a prayer service.

A series of white crosses were staked into the site along with a temporary headstone. It reads: “May God welcome the souls of these children killed by Kermit Gosnell, and the souls of all children, killed by abortion, into the joy of Heaven.”

“We pray that these children would be honored and respected – that their lives have meaning and purpose,” said Mahoney.

Gosnell is serving a life sentence for his murder convictions.

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