May 09, 2013 at 7:25 PM, updated May 10, 2013 at 7:01 AM
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- As the jury continued into its second week of deliberations in the murder trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, the Rev. Frank Pavone on Thursday presided over a service at Priests for Life in New Dorp to give names to the 45 babies whose bodies were found in the West Philadelphia, Pa., clinic where the alleged crimes were committed.
Gosnell is accused of first-degree murder of the deaths of four babies who were allegedly born alive but then died after late-term abortions, and third-degree murder in the death of an adult woman, Karnamaya Mongar, who allegedly died during an abortion in 2009.
"People have names, people deserve names," Father Pavone said during a service in the chapel of Priests for Life headquarters. "The name expresses the person."
Father Pavone said there was no such recognition for the babies whose remains were found in milk jugs, orange juice cartons and litter boxes.
"Who are these children, and whose are these children?" Father Pavone asked. "Are they medical waste or are they our brothers and sisters?"
Father Pavone said the nearly two-month-long trial, regardless of its outcome, goes to the very core of the abortion debate.
"What was not in dispute in that courtroom is that these were living children whose hearts were stopped," he said, adding that four of the babies were at 22 weeks or more of gestation.
The service also called for prayers and healing for the parents of the aborted children. During the service, Priests for Life staffers and volunteers carrying certificates with a name for each child walked in procession to the chapel's altar.
Father Pavone has asked permission of the Philadelphia Medical Examiner to be allowed to give the babies a proper funeral and burial once the trial reaches its conclusion. That request is still pending, and the medical examiner has said it is under consideration.
Audio and video of the baby-naming service will be available at the Priests for Life web site.
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