Commentary Magazine


Topic: Kermit Gosnell

Can Democrats Win on Abortion in 2014? Not Necessarily.

Pro-life activists are streaming into Washington for tomorrow’s annual March for Life on the Mall marking the anniversary of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Weather permitting, Republicans will be out in force to join the pro-lifers, while liberals continue to hope the issue will work in their favor this year as it did two years ago. After successfully persuading many voters that the GOP was waging a “war on women” in 2012, many Democrats believe the issue could help stave off an electoral disaster in this year’s midterm elections. As the New York Times reports, both parties traditionally look to abortion to help mobilize their bases, but for Democrats it has become a rallying cry to convince women that their freedom depends on turning out to defeat conservative Republicans.

Are they right? Given the impact that Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s ignorant comments on abortion and rape had not only on his own losing race in 2012 but on the entire GOP that year, it’s hard to argue with the conclusion that the faux war on women meme was a big winner for Democrats. The demonization of Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinielli that helped him lose the women’s vote in November also points to the way liberals have manipulated abortion to their advantage. But the assumption that the Democrats can play this card again this year may be wrong. Moreover, Democrats may also be underestimating conservatives’ capacity to present the issue in a way that will help boost their turnout and diminish sympathy for candidates who march under the pro-choice banner.

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Pro-life activists are streaming into Washington for tomorrow’s annual March for Life on the Mall marking the anniversary of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Weather permitting, Republicans will be out in force to join the pro-lifers, while liberals continue to hope the issue will work in their favor this year as it did two years ago. After successfully persuading many voters that the GOP was waging a “war on women” in 2012, many Democrats believe the issue could help stave off an electoral disaster in this year’s midterm elections. As the New York Times reports, both parties traditionally look to abortion to help mobilize their bases, but for Democrats it has become a rallying cry to convince women that their freedom depends on turning out to defeat conservative Republicans.

Are they right? Given the impact that Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s ignorant comments on abortion and rape had not only on his own losing race in 2012 but on the entire GOP that year, it’s hard to argue with the conclusion that the faux war on women meme was a big winner for Democrats. The demonization of Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinielli that helped him lose the women’s vote in November also points to the way liberals have manipulated abortion to their advantage. But the assumption that the Democrats can play this card again this year may be wrong. Moreover, Democrats may also be underestimating conservatives’ capacity to present the issue in a way that will help boost their turnout and diminish sympathy for candidates who march under the pro-choice banner.

The electoral facts of life on abortion have always been focused on each party’s base and not the political center. It’s a litmus test for single issue voters on both ends of the spectrum. But most Americans don’t base their ballot choices solely on the issue of abortion.

Polls have consistently shown that the majority doesn’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade or to criminalize abortion. But they also demonstrate that a clear majority approves of significant restrictions on the practice, such as requiring parental consent and enacting bans on late-term procedures. The latter point is a crucial weakness for liberals because the advances in medical science, particularly sonograms, since the court ruled on Roe in 1973 make such abortions look more like infanticide than a woman exercising her “right to choose.” Last year’s gruesome Kermit Gosnell murder trial in Philadelphia opened the eyes of many Americans who had never understood exactly what late-term abortion meant or the possibility that such horrors involving the slaughter of babies born alive as a result of botched procedures might be more common than they had realized or than the liberal media had ever sought to inform them.

Thus, messaging is the key to whether the discussion of abortion can stampede voters away from Republicans or, as the GOP hopes, help boost their turnout in a year in which Democrats can no longer count on President Obama’s coattails. That’s why GOP gaffes such as the one committed by Akin are fatal to Republicans and tarnish the national image of conservatives. But the notion that Democrats can keep their stranglehold on the women’s vote ignores the way sonograms and the Gosnell case influence public opinion on late-term abortion. Though Wendy Davis vaulted to national liberal stardom last year on the strength of a filibuster against a bill that banned late-term abortions after 20 weeks—the period after which most fetuses become viable outside the womb—if the GOP can focus its candidates on this issue, it is by no means a foregone conclusion that it will work against them. Republicans also think they have another, related winning issue in the attempts to push back against the ObamaCare mandate forcing employers to pay for abortion and/or requiring the use of public funds to pay for them.

As long as Democrats can portray Republicans as troglodytes who think, as Akin did, that women’s bodies magically protect them from pregnancy in cases of rape, they are on firm ground to pursue their war on women theme. But if Republicans can manage to stay on message on late-term procedures and the impact of ObamaCare, there’s every reason to believe widespread concerns over  abortion will attract more voters to their candidates.

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What Davis Doesn’t Know About Gosnell

For months, most of the mainstream media treated the Kermit Gosnell murder case as if it was as significant as a suburban traffic court dispute. Only in the waning days of the trial of the Philadelphia doctor for the murder of infants born alive as a result of botched abortions did the topic attract much coverage. Yet even then, few journalists chose to think seriously about the implications of a case that raised serious questions about the quality of care and possibly illegal practices at clinics, especially those that specialized in the kind of late-term abortions that Gosnell performed. That unwillingness to address the core issues at the heart of this story would have important political consequences.

The Gosnell coverage deficit and refusal to think about what late-term abortion in this country actually means would dictate the subsequent media treatment of the battle in the Texas legislature over abortion. While the conservatives who proposed a ban on the procedure after 20 weeks were directly influenced by the Gosnell horrors, the mainstream liberal media saw only an attack on the right to abortion on demand and responded accordingly. Thus, when a heretofore-obscure Texas state senator staged a filibuster that successfully prevented (at least for a while) passage of the late term ban, overnight she was turned into a liberal national heroine with no one in her vast cheering section ever pausing to ask what she thought about Gosnell. Nor did they ask about the argument that since medical science now made most such babies viable outside the womb, perhaps the ban was a defense of human rights rather than an attack on women.

Thanks to the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack, we now have an answer to that question. But it appears neither Davis, who appears to be using her status as the pro-abortion champion as a platform to run for governor of Texas, nor her supporters who have responded angrily to the Standard’s chutzpah, have actually given a serious thought to Gosnell or have the slightest understanding of what it means.

McCormack cornered Davis at the National Press Club where she was taking yet another bow from the media for her role in defending the right to abort infants that would likely survive outside the womb:

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For months, most of the mainstream media treated the Kermit Gosnell murder case as if it was as significant as a suburban traffic court dispute. Only in the waning days of the trial of the Philadelphia doctor for the murder of infants born alive as a result of botched abortions did the topic attract much coverage. Yet even then, few journalists chose to think seriously about the implications of a case that raised serious questions about the quality of care and possibly illegal practices at clinics, especially those that specialized in the kind of late-term abortions that Gosnell performed. That unwillingness to address the core issues at the heart of this story would have important political consequences.

The Gosnell coverage deficit and refusal to think about what late-term abortion in this country actually means would dictate the subsequent media treatment of the battle in the Texas legislature over abortion. While the conservatives who proposed a ban on the procedure after 20 weeks were directly influenced by the Gosnell horrors, the mainstream liberal media saw only an attack on the right to abortion on demand and responded accordingly. Thus, when a heretofore-obscure Texas state senator staged a filibuster that successfully prevented (at least for a while) passage of the late term ban, overnight she was turned into a liberal national heroine with no one in her vast cheering section ever pausing to ask what she thought about Gosnell. Nor did they ask about the argument that since medical science now made most such babies viable outside the womb, perhaps the ban was a defense of human rights rather than an attack on women.

Thanks to the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack, we now have an answer to that question. But it appears neither Davis, who appears to be using her status as the pro-abortion champion as a platform to run for governor of Texas, nor her supporters who have responded angrily to the Standard’s chutzpah, have actually given a serious thought to Gosnell or have the slightest understanding of what it means.

McCormack cornered Davis at the National Press Club where she was taking yet another bow from the media for her role in defending the right to abort infants that would likely survive outside the womb:

THE WEEKLY STANDARD: The supporters of these bans, they argue that there really isn’t much of a difference between what happened in that Philadelphia case with abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell [killing born-alive infants] 23 weeks into pregnancy and legal late-term abortions at 23 weeks. What is the difference between those two, between legal abortion at 23 weeks and what Gosnell did? Do you see a distinction between those two [acts]?

SEN. WENDY DAVIS: I don’t know what happened in the Gosnell case. But I do know that it happened in an ambulatory surgical center. And in Texas changing our clinics to that standard obviously isn’t going to make a difference. The state of the law obviously has to assure that doctors are providing safe procedures for women and that proper oversight by the health and human services department is being given. It sounds as though there was a huge gap in that oversight, and no one can defend that. But that’s not the landscape of what’s happening in Texas. 

As McCormack later pointed out, the one thing Davis claimed to know about Gosnell was actually wrong. Gosnell was not operating an ambulatory surgical center, just an ordinary abortion mill that was known for being willing to violate the Pennsylvania law that prohibited late-term abortions. That’s significant because the Texas law she sought to filibuster required clinics in the state to conform to the standards of care at such facilities.

But the main point here is that, like the liberal media, Davis thinks the Gosnell case is irrelevant to the question of whether states should demand that the loose regulatory regime that currently applies to abortion clinics should be changed to require them to be as good as ambulatory surgical centers or whether viable 20+ week babies should be allowed to aborted. Rather than ponder whether such atrocities are occurring elsewhere under the guise of legality, they prefer to grandstand on the issue and claim defending dangerous late-term procedures that often border on, if not cross over into, infanticide is the same as protecting the right to perform abortions in the first trimester.

As McCormack also noted, Davis doesn’t recognize any limits on abortion and, like many others in the pro-choice community, pretends that the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision protected all abortions, including late-term procedures, a position that is patently false.

Predictably, the Standard has been attacked by the left for even raising the question of Gosnell to Davis. In doing so, Media Matters repeated the liberal talking point that what Davis was doing in Texas was protecting the right to legal abortion while what Gosnell was doing was illegal. It quoted former New York columnists as saying that the issue with Gosnell was making abortion accessible and safe. But this is based on the myth that women went to Gosnell because they had no alternatives. In fact, his clinic was located in the middle of Philadelphia, where other clinics, including one run by Planned Parenthood, were available.

It is no small irony that abortion advocates claim that they want the procedure to be safe while simultaneously dismissing the idea that their clinics should have high health standards. While the assertion that all but five clinics in Texas would be closed by the regulations is almost certainly false, it still begs the question of why Davis and her supporters are so adamant about opposing improving facilities at what are well known to be highly profitable businesses.

The fact remains that those like Davis who seek to oppose all restrictions on abortion, even a reasonable one such as a ban after the point of viability is reached, are the real extremists on the issue. Gosnell is relevant to her celebrity because it is built on a willful desire to allow potential atrocities to continue undisturbed and a blind refusal to contemplate the moral and ethical issues behind late-term abortion. That so many in the media still seek to stifle such a discussion is nothing less than a disgrace.

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Abortion Horrors Make Texas Look Smart

The prevailing narrative about our contemporary political situation for liberals is that it is conservatives and Republicans who oppose compromise on every front. While that might be a fair characterization of the stand many House Republicans have taken on immigration reform, as a rule of thumb, that is a hypocritical and false position when analyzing the debate about taxes, entitlements, health care and many other issues since Democrats are no less ideological than the GOP on these questions. But that doesn’t stop liberal publications from continuing to put forward this line, especially with regard to social issues such as abortion. Today, the New York Times attempts to point out the folly of Texas conservatives who have pushed for a new law imposing limits (no abortions after 20 weeks with exceptions for the mother’s health) and standards on the practice of abortion by comparing it to a new set of regulations that have promulgated in Maryland. But although the conceit of the piece is ostensibly about the sensible conduct of Maryland officials in contrast to the alleged extremism of the Texas GOP, it isn’t entirely supported by much of the content of the article.

Though the editors of the Times may have intended this feature to be another salvo on behalf of the pro-choice position in the culture war over abortion, the tale it tells underlines the concerns about illegal and dangerous practices that is driving the debate in Texas and elsewhere. By pointing out that the Maryland rules were impelled by abuses by abortionists and by also letting slip that one of the key elements of the Texas bill—compelling abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgery centers—was already in place in Pennsylvania without making it impossible for women to obtain first trimester abortions, the Times undermines the claim that what was filibustered in Austin to the cheers of liberals around the nation was either extreme or unreasonable. Nor do the claims that abortion is universally safe sound convincing after the account of yet another Gosnell-like atrocity.

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The prevailing narrative about our contemporary political situation for liberals is that it is conservatives and Republicans who oppose compromise on every front. While that might be a fair characterization of the stand many House Republicans have taken on immigration reform, as a rule of thumb, that is a hypocritical and false position when analyzing the debate about taxes, entitlements, health care and many other issues since Democrats are no less ideological than the GOP on these questions. But that doesn’t stop liberal publications from continuing to put forward this line, especially with regard to social issues such as abortion. Today, the New York Times attempts to point out the folly of Texas conservatives who have pushed for a new law imposing limits (no abortions after 20 weeks with exceptions for the mother’s health) and standards on the practice of abortion by comparing it to a new set of regulations that have promulgated in Maryland. But although the conceit of the piece is ostensibly about the sensible conduct of Maryland officials in contrast to the alleged extremism of the Texas GOP, it isn’t entirely supported by much of the content of the article.

Though the editors of the Times may have intended this feature to be another salvo on behalf of the pro-choice position in the culture war over abortion, the tale it tells underlines the concerns about illegal and dangerous practices that is driving the debate in Texas and elsewhere. By pointing out that the Maryland rules were impelled by abuses by abortionists and by also letting slip that one of the key elements of the Texas bill—compelling abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgery centers—was already in place in Pennsylvania without making it impossible for women to obtain first trimester abortions, the Times undermines the claim that what was filibustered in Austin to the cheers of liberals around the nation was either extreme or unreasonable. Nor do the claims that abortion is universally safe sound convincing after the account of yet another Gosnell-like atrocity.

The centerpiece of the Times account is the story of Dr. Steven C. Brigham, a New Jersey-based practitioner who was charged with fetal deaths as the result of botched abortions that took place at his Elkton, Maryland clinic. The Elkton office, which was no more than a bare office in a mall, was where he completed late-term abortions that were begun in New Jersey where he had no legal right to conduct such procedures. Though he had a long record of abuses (he was banned from practicing medicine in Pennsylvania—the state that failed for decades to uncover the horrors committed at Kermit Gosnell’s Philadelphia clinic) and had already transferred corporate ownership of his clinics to his mother, Brigham had a thriving business doing questionable and clearly unsafe late term procedures. He was found out when an 18-year-old patient with a 21-week-old fetus had her uterus and bowels pierced during an abortion carried out by Brigham and an inexperienced associate. Only after his victim was taken to Johns Hopkins University to save her life and one of the doctors there reported what had happened was Brigham called to account. After an investigation, he was charged with murdering numerous fetuses that were 24 or more weeks old. But the charges were dropped since prosecutors had no confidence that they could convict him. He lost his license to practice medicine but otherwise got off scot-free.

The article is at pains to give abortion advocates space to claim that it is generally safe. But after reading the Gosnell story and this one, it’s not clear to me why any objective observer would think that most abuses or problems are being accurately reported. It is likely that most first-term abortions are generally safely conducted in most places in this country. But the dangerous abortions are the ones being done on late-term fetuses that are either already illegal or being done in clinics that are not authorized to carry out the practice. To assume, as one doctor quoted in the piece asserts, “having an abortion is safer than an injection of penicillin,” is a leap of faith that isn’t borne out by the accounts of horrors provided in this same article.

The new Maryland regulations are less stringent in some respects than the ones proposed in Texas. They focus on whether clinics can respond effectively to emergencies, and do not require them to adhere to all the minute requirements imposed on hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers in most states. Nor do they require all doctors practicing in them to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. But they do impose standards on abortion providers that butchers like Gosnell and Brigham could not satisfy.

The implication is that Texas should pass laws that are equally lenient. That is debatable, but it is a reasonable position. However, liberal arguments about the Texas law haven’t been about how it can be changed in order to be more workable but instead have operated under the premise that any new regulations aimed at protecting women’s health in these clinics are, by definition, an attack on the right to abortion.

Moreover, as even the Times points out, the more restrictive path offered by Texas Republicans isn’t, as the left has tried to argue, synonymous with banning abortion. The article rightly notes that in 2011, Pennsylvania adopted one of the key elements of the Texas bill, requiring abortion clinics to adhere to the same standards as ambulatory surgery centers. That has forced some of their owners to spend money to make their facilities safer, but it has not shut them down. The claims that the changes will invariably bankrupt abortionists are belied by the generally profitable nature of their trade.

But no matter how much they claim that Gosnell and Brigham are exceptions, we know that the abortion industry—like any other big business or trade association—has a vested interest in underreporting problems and cooking statistics that might otherwise hurt public confidence in them. Though abortion rights advocates claim the alternative to preserving the laws as they now stand are back-alley coat hanger abortions, it’s becoming obvious that there are licensed doctors who are currently spilling blood in this manner and claiming they are following the law.

Like Gosnell, what Brigham was doing was slaughtering otherwise healthy babies that were clearly viable if taken out of the womb. You don’t have to oppose all abortions to know that late term procedures under these circumstances are morally repugnant. What conservatives in Texas are trying to do is to make it harder for such atrocities to happen and to make legal abortions safer. The Times may have thought it was illustrating how wrong the Texans have been. But the more we learn about this troubled industry, the weaker the arguments of their defenders sound.

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Texas Filibuster Ignores Gosnell Lessons

Liberals have a new folk heroine today. Texas State Senator Wendy Davis is the idol of the left after her 11-hour filibuster in the Texas legislature helped derail a bill that sought to restrict late-term abortions and enforce new health regulations for clinics that perform the procedure. As far as Davis was concerned, the legislation that would have banned (with some exceptions) abortions after 20 weeks was nothing less than an attack on a woman’s right to choose and had to be stopped at all costs. A crowd of supporters that had thronged to the Austin statehouse agreed with the Fort Worth Democrat and their demonstration disrupted the proceedings long enough to prevent the bill’s passage before time ran out on the legislature’s session. The president of the United States also applauded the spectacle. As the Washington Post noted, President Obama took time out from his African tour to tweet about the Austin dustup in a post that read, “Something special is happening in Austin tonight” and added the hashtag #StandWithWendy.

As far as the mainstream liberal media is concerned, not only is Davis the winner of the exchange but the attempt to pass the bill is yet another example of the extremism driving Republicans these days. The GOP legislators who sponsored the bills are, we are told, just another bunch of Todd Akins who will, if unhindered, doom the Republicans to perpetual defeat as an enlightened America rejects their unhinged efforts to impinge on the freedom of women.

But I have one question for those insisting that this is the only possible interpretation of what happened yesterday: Doesn’t anybody remember the Gosnell case? After what we saw happen in Philadelphia, no matter whether you favor abortion rights or oppose them, how can any measure that is aimed at preventing late term abortions (which are already illegal in most parts of the country after 24 weeks) and ensuring the places where they occur will be prepared to deal with medical emergencies including live births be dismissed so cavalierly?

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Liberals have a new folk heroine today. Texas State Senator Wendy Davis is the idol of the left after her 11-hour filibuster in the Texas legislature helped derail a bill that sought to restrict late-term abortions and enforce new health regulations for clinics that perform the procedure. As far as Davis was concerned, the legislation that would have banned (with some exceptions) abortions after 20 weeks was nothing less than an attack on a woman’s right to choose and had to be stopped at all costs. A crowd of supporters that had thronged to the Austin statehouse agreed with the Fort Worth Democrat and their demonstration disrupted the proceedings long enough to prevent the bill’s passage before time ran out on the legislature’s session. The president of the United States also applauded the spectacle. As the Washington Post noted, President Obama took time out from his African tour to tweet about the Austin dustup in a post that read, “Something special is happening in Austin tonight” and added the hashtag #StandWithWendy.

As far as the mainstream liberal media is concerned, not only is Davis the winner of the exchange but the attempt to pass the bill is yet another example of the extremism driving Republicans these days. The GOP legislators who sponsored the bills are, we are told, just another bunch of Todd Akins who will, if unhindered, doom the Republicans to perpetual defeat as an enlightened America rejects their unhinged efforts to impinge on the freedom of women.

But I have one question for those insisting that this is the only possible interpretation of what happened yesterday: Doesn’t anybody remember the Gosnell case? After what we saw happen in Philadelphia, no matter whether you favor abortion rights or oppose them, how can any measure that is aimed at preventing late term abortions (which are already illegal in most parts of the country after 24 weeks) and ensuring the places where they occur will be prepared to deal with medical emergencies including live births be dismissed so cavalierly?

It is likely true that many of those who supported the Texas bills were motivated by a desire to chip away at abortion rights. But, like the battle over background checks for gun purchases, you don’t have to be against the Second Amendment to understand that some gun regulations are sensible and even necessary. In this day and age when medical science has made it possible for babies born after 20 weeks to often survive outside the womb, the discussion about late term abortions can’t be conducted in absolute terms about choice in the way they once were.

Exceptions to this provision are possible due to health concerns or other problems (something the Texas bill took into account), but as the evidence in the Gosnell case showed, the line between a permissible abortion and infanticide can become very hazy at that late stage. The willingness of the pro-abortion rights community to embrace such procedures and to view any limits on them as a threat to all women is no different from the way the National Rifle Association views background checks as the thin edge of the wedge that threatens to take away all Second Amendment rights.

More to the point, the main argument of Davis and the chorus that is echoing her points in the media today is that the impact of the bill’s new health regulations would have closed down every abortion clinic in Texas and thus created a de facto ban. This is almost certainly an exaggeration, as it is likely that some clinics in Texas already meet the standards set by the state for hospital-style surgical centers and that doctors who work there should have admitting privileges to local hospitals or could do so without going out of business. Indeed, we would certainly hope that Planned Parenthood clinics–which we are assured provide the best care for women–would already do so.

But if that is not currently the case with most clinics in Texas, then the question should be: why not? Rather than flaying those seeking to require these standards and questioning their motives, those who truly care about the health of women should be asking the owners of these clinics why they are operating without being prepared to assure the safety of their patients.

If the Gosnell case—in which Dr. Kermit Gosnell, an otherwise respected and experienced Philadelphia physician and clinic owner was found to have murdered live infants who were the result of botched late-term abortions and to have operated a facility that did not meet even the most minimal health standards—should have taught us anything it is that abortion providers need to be held accountable and to be required to be prepared to assure the safety of those who make use of their services.

Amid the cheers Senator Davis is hearing today, there ought to be someone asking whether she or her highly-placed supporters really believe the American people think there is something extreme about opposing the abortion of a healthy baby that has been in the womb for 21 weeks or in demanding that those who perform such procedures be able—unlike Gosnell—to give assurances about the health of the mother.

It needs to be repeated that you don’t need to oppose abortion in the early stages of pregnancy—something most Americans don’t wish to be made illegal—to understand that a defense of late-term abortion or inadequate clinics is not about women’s health or constitutional rights.

Some on the left feared that the Gosnell case might discredit the pro-choice cause and that is almost certainly what caused most of the media to initially ignore the story and then to downplay or minimize it once they did notice it. If this country can have a discussion about late-term abortions of healthy fetuses and inadequate clinics without Gosnell being mentioned—as was the case with almost every account of the Texas filibuster—then it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Gosnell case and the awful lessons that must be drawn from it about the state of the abortion industry have already been forgotten.

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Gosnell Not as Unique as We Thought

Throughout the discussion about the crimes of Kermit Gosnell we were repeatedly assured that the atrocities that took place in his clinic were exceptional and should in no way be imputed to other providers of abortion services. This is a tenet of faith for those seeking to defend abortion rights since they seem to fear that any attention focused on late-term abortions impacts the discussion about the legality of the procedure under any circumstances. But if Gosnell is not quite the outlier that some have tried to argue that he is, then the nation may have to confront the fact that what went on in West Philadelphia isn’t the only place where infants were slaughtered as the result of botched abortions.

Thus, the news today that another such case may be about to surface in Texas may realize the worst fears of both sides in the abortion debate.

As the American Spectator notes (they cite a Houston Chronicle story that is difficult to find on its website), former employees of a Houston clinic are claiming that babies were routinely killed in the same fashion as the ones Gosnell was convicted of murdering: by snipping their spinal cords. Like the testimony in the Philadelphia case, reading this account is not for those with weak stomachs. The details of fully formed infants being mutilated in this manner are horrifying. While those implicated are entitled to a presumption of innocence and we should wait until police complete their investigation, these new hair-raising allegations should cause enforcement officials and health care inspectors, not to mention the rest of us, to wonder just how common such activities really are.

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Throughout the discussion about the crimes of Kermit Gosnell we were repeatedly assured that the atrocities that took place in his clinic were exceptional and should in no way be imputed to other providers of abortion services. This is a tenet of faith for those seeking to defend abortion rights since they seem to fear that any attention focused on late-term abortions impacts the discussion about the legality of the procedure under any circumstances. But if Gosnell is not quite the outlier that some have tried to argue that he is, then the nation may have to confront the fact that what went on in West Philadelphia isn’t the only place where infants were slaughtered as the result of botched abortions.

Thus, the news today that another such case may be about to surface in Texas may realize the worst fears of both sides in the abortion debate.

As the American Spectator notes (they cite a Houston Chronicle story that is difficult to find on its website), former employees of a Houston clinic are claiming that babies were routinely killed in the same fashion as the ones Gosnell was convicted of murdering: by snipping their spinal cords. Like the testimony in the Philadelphia case, reading this account is not for those with weak stomachs. The details of fully formed infants being mutilated in this manner are horrifying. While those implicated are entitled to a presumption of innocence and we should wait until police complete their investigation, these new hair-raising allegations should cause enforcement officials and health care inspectors, not to mention the rest of us, to wonder just how common such activities really are.

One needn’t support the pro-life side of the abortion debate to understand that Gosnell may have changed the nature of the national conversation at least as far as late-term abortions are concerned. Advances in medical science since Roe v. Wade was decided have made it more difficult to act as if a fetus in the sixth, seventh or eighth month is merely a clump of cells rather than a human being who can survive outside the womb. If clinics are performing late-term abortions, including in states like Pennsylvania where they have long been illegal, it is because the health care industry and regulators have largely turned a blind eye to the possibility that Gosnells exist.

If the Houston case proves to be another trip into the nightmare world of the Gosnell case, then it will be a signal that complacence about such abuses must end. As long as we can pretend that Gosnell was a singular monster rather than a product of a culture that considered such infants, whether inside the womb or out of it, as a problem that needed to be fixed by snipping their spines or tearing them to pieces, then we needn’t be haunted by the possibility that more such cases are lurking below the surface of our national consciousness.

We know that women that resort to butchers like Gosnell or others who behave in the same fashion because they are desperate. We also know the children who survive the ordeal of botched abortions have the odds stacked against them, both medically and in terms of what is most likely a life of deprivation. But that is no excuse for refusing to protect them. If we are a civilized society, the thought that there are more Gosnells out there—something that seems more likely than not in the wake of the news about the Houston case—should motivate all of us, no matter where we stand on Roe, to speak out and act to ensure such persons are prevented from killing any more infants.

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The Lethal Compassion of Modern Liberalism

The Philadelphia abortionist, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, was found guilty Monday of murdering three babies born alive in an abortion clinic. (Gosnell severed the necks of the newborn babies.) He was acquitted in the fourth baby’s death, and found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the overdose death of an adult patient. 

Planned Parenthood applauded the verdict. “The jury has punished Kermit Gosnell for his appalling crimes.” 

The abortion rights organization should have stopped there. But it didn’t.

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The Philadelphia abortionist, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, was found guilty Monday of murdering three babies born alive in an abortion clinic. (Gosnell severed the necks of the newborn babies.) He was acquitted in the fourth baby’s death, and found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the overdose death of an adult patient. 

Planned Parenthood applauded the verdict. “The jury has punished Kermit Gosnell for his appalling crimes.” 

The abortion rights organization should have stopped there. But it didn’t.

“This verdict will ensure that no woman is victimized by Kermit Gosnell ever again,” said Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero. “This case has made clear that we must have and enforce laws that protect access to safe and legal abortion, and we must reject misguided laws that would limit women’s options and force them to seek treatment from criminals like Kermit Gosnell.”

So what’s missing from this Planned Parenthood statement? That’s right: any reference to the murdered infants. Because in the disturbing and distorted world of Planned Parenthood, murdered infants cannot be mentioned, even in the case of an abortion doctor who is convicted of murdering three of them.

One can see how the Gosnell trial has complicated life for those in the abortion industry. They know that Gosnell’s actions are morally repellant–yet Planned Parenthood cannot utter a single word of sympathy for the murdered infants. So the solution is to applaud the verdict but ignore the lethal actions that led to the verdict.

Planned Parenthood’s commitment to abort any child, for any reason, at any point in pregnancy (or post-delivery) is simply unshakeable. The organization seems to view abortion like a secular sacrament, as a demonstration of emancipation. There is something quite twisted in all this. And it tells you a great deal about Barack Obama that he is so impressed with the lethal work of Planned Parenthood that he is the first sitting president to address the group. And why not? As a state senator in Illinois Mr. Obama opposed legislation that would grant legal protection to a newborn child that had been marked for abortion but survived.

Of course, a story like this shouldn’t obscure the fact that liberalism is the philosophy that defends the weak, the vulnerable, and the defenseless. Except for when it comes to snipping the necks of newborn children.

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Gosnell Verdict Isn’t the End of This Story

We can all breathe a little easier this evening knowing that justice triumphed at the trial of Kermit Gosnell. A Philadelphia jury found the abortionist guilty of three counts of first-degree murder for his killing of three infants who were born alive after botched abortions. He was also convicted of a count of involuntary manslaughter for the death of one of his patients as well as more than 200 other charges involving conducting illegal late-term abortions or not observing the mandatory waiting period before performing the procedure. The 71-year-old doctor will now face the sentencing phase of his trial, as the court will decide whether he gets the death penalty or a lengthy prison term.

The trial closes one chapter in the story of this one doctor and the butchery committed at the clinic he ran. But there is more to this controversy than the fate of one person convicted of monstrous crimes. The national media had to be shamed into covering a case that showed the country the dark side to abortion that has rarely been discussed in the decades since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion. Abortion rights supporters have argued that this is an isolated case and demonstrates the need for support for better health care choices for women. But the question hanging over the country today is whether there are other places where doctors are performing dangerous late-term abortions resulting in similar atrocities.

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We can all breathe a little easier this evening knowing that justice triumphed at the trial of Kermit Gosnell. A Philadelphia jury found the abortionist guilty of three counts of first-degree murder for his killing of three infants who were born alive after botched abortions. He was also convicted of a count of involuntary manslaughter for the death of one of his patients as well as more than 200 other charges involving conducting illegal late-term abortions or not observing the mandatory waiting period before performing the procedure. The 71-year-old doctor will now face the sentencing phase of his trial, as the court will decide whether he gets the death penalty or a lengthy prison term.

The trial closes one chapter in the story of this one doctor and the butchery committed at the clinic he ran. But there is more to this controversy than the fate of one person convicted of monstrous crimes. The national media had to be shamed into covering a case that showed the country the dark side to abortion that has rarely been discussed in the decades since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion. Abortion rights supporters have argued that this is an isolated case and demonstrates the need for support for better health care choices for women. But the question hanging over the country today is whether there are other places where doctors are performing dangerous late-term abortions resulting in similar atrocities.

While prosecutors brought evidence about seven murdered infants in the last several years, there is no telling how many might have died in the last 30 years during which the doctor masqueraded as a pillar of society. Pennsylvania’s failure to stop Gosnell is in a way similar to the media’s failure to pay sufficient attention to the issue until quite recently. Just as many journalists feared that highlighting Gosnell would boost the right-to-life movement, pro-choice governors of the state and other officials de-emphasized regulations of such clinics because they feared too much scrutiny of the abortion industry would be interpreted as an attempt to restrict women’s choices.

What we now need to know is whether this lack of scrutiny has enabled this industry to erase the line between early abortions that may have majority support and legal protection and late-term procedures that border on, if not cross over into, infanticide. That is especially true since medical science now makes it possible for premature infants to survive long after they would have been written off when Roe v. Wade was decided.

Supporters of abortion rights may regret the fact that Gosnell has given a new impetus to their pro-life opponents. But the reason that may be true is that perhaps for the first time since Roe, we have glimpsed a disturbing vision of what abortion can mean. Instead of being able to argue that legalization ended back-alley abortions where women were victimized by quacks, Gosnell has shown that Roe brought us exactly that situation, only this time with the imprimatur of the law up until just three years ago when agents investigating the sale of illegal drugs at the clinic (for which Gosnell will go on trial in the fall) stumbled into his house of horrors.

Let’s remember that a Planned Parenthood official testified in Florida earlier this year against a bill that would have required doctors to come to the assistance to babies born as the result of botched abortions and said the issue was one of choice rather than obligation. Gosnell seemed to think he was being paid to kill infants and remains puzzled as to what the fuss is about.

While it is unlikely that Gosnell will lead to a reversal of Roe, what it ought to do is to light a fire under health authorities across the nation to see what is going on at abortion clinics under their jurisdiction. We can hope that their efforts will show that Gosnell is an exception, but there is good reason to fear they will find he isn’t the only person making a living terminating pregnancies that have crossed the line into infanticide.

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Which Lives Matter to the Media

Last month, the American media had a brief moment of accountability when many in the press and broadcast networks acknowledged that they had largely ignored the case of Kermit Gosnell. The trial of the murderous Philadelphia abortionist flew below the radar for weeks. But some journalists were willing to fess up to the fact that their lack of interest in a sensational crime had something to do with their lack of comfort in discussing a case that might throw a shadow on an issue most in the media see as pitting an enlightened advocacy of “choice” against an unreasoned support of “life,” even when it comes to late-term procedures. But after a brief spurt of interest in Gosnell, the broadcast networks and the newspapers have reverted to form, and with the wait for the verdict in Philadelphia have once again lost their interest.

Perhaps that is understandable. But anyone who watches a lot of cable news, as I do, can’t help but contrast the Gosnell blackout with the enormous coverage accorded to other criminal trials. The Jodi Arias murder case has pretty much taken over CNN’s Headline News channel and has gotten the lion’s share of attention on most of the other networks as well. The publication of a new book by Amanda Knox, who was convicted and then exonerated in an Italian murder case, has also garnered for her efforts to fight a retrial and potential extradition the sort of attention Gosnell never received.

Why should that be? The answer is obvious. Both of these murder trials involve sex and young white women. Gosnell’s crimes were committed against African-American women—the one he is accused of killing was an African immigrant—and defenseless babies just plucked from the womb, not unfaithful lovers. The networks understand that the Arias and Knox cases will attract viewers while they fear too much about Gosnell will turn them off. But before we let the media off the hook for bias and merely indict it for profiteering, it’s important to think about what this preference says about both them and their audience.

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Last month, the American media had a brief moment of accountability when many in the press and broadcast networks acknowledged that they had largely ignored the case of Kermit Gosnell. The trial of the murderous Philadelphia abortionist flew below the radar for weeks. But some journalists were willing to fess up to the fact that their lack of interest in a sensational crime had something to do with their lack of comfort in discussing a case that might throw a shadow on an issue most in the media see as pitting an enlightened advocacy of “choice” against an unreasoned support of “life,” even when it comes to late-term procedures. But after a brief spurt of interest in Gosnell, the broadcast networks and the newspapers have reverted to form, and with the wait for the verdict in Philadelphia have once again lost their interest.

Perhaps that is understandable. But anyone who watches a lot of cable news, as I do, can’t help but contrast the Gosnell blackout with the enormous coverage accorded to other criminal trials. The Jodi Arias murder case has pretty much taken over CNN’s Headline News channel and has gotten the lion’s share of attention on most of the other networks as well. The publication of a new book by Amanda Knox, who was convicted and then exonerated in an Italian murder case, has also garnered for her efforts to fight a retrial and potential extradition the sort of attention Gosnell never received.

Why should that be? The answer is obvious. Both of these murder trials involve sex and young white women. Gosnell’s crimes were committed against African-American women—the one he is accused of killing was an African immigrant—and defenseless babies just plucked from the womb, not unfaithful lovers. The networks understand that the Arias and Knox cases will attract viewers while they fear too much about Gosnell will turn them off. But before we let the media off the hook for bias and merely indict it for profiteering, it’s important to think about what this preference says about both them and their audience.

It should be conceded that the focus on Arias rather than Gosnell stems in no small measure from the fact that her trial is being captured on camera in Arizona while his is not being filmed. As for Knox, her tale is the sort of saga that resonates with the vast majority of Americans who know little of the world and fear being subjected to foreign jurisdictions.

But as both the Arias and Gosnell trials wind up, with Knox waiting to see if she is re-tried, let’s understand that the obsession with the plight of young white women and the disdain that is accorded the fate of black women and babies tells us a lot about our national culture as well as the mindset of our media.

It may be that more TV viewers or even readers care about Jodi Arias or Amanda Knox than about Gosnell and his victims. If so, it says something about our attitudes about race as well as about our national appetite for titillating stories, and perhaps would lead some to say condemnations of the Gosnell near-blackout is simply a function of broadcast economics. But let’s be honest. If the media had invested a fraction of the energy it has invested in telling the story of Arias or similar stories into Gosnell, they might well have generated a surge of interest in the case and related issues.

Fear of going outside the audience’s comfort zone has not prevented many network shows from focusing on obesity or global warming or any other issue that isn’t about white women and sex. What the Gosnell case lacked was a commitment on the part of journalists to telling the story of his victims that has not been absent elsewhere. That’s why the claim that the decisions of producers, reporters and news readers on many stations are solely motivated by their audience’s preferences aren’t entirely credible. Maybe a lot of Americans don’t care much about the Gosnell victims because of their race and would prefer to fixate on accounts of crimes of passion. But don’t let anyone in the media who has ignored Gosnell, as most have, tell you that they don’t have the same mindset.

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Waiting for the Gosnell Verdict

The wait for the verdict in the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell went on today as a jury continued to weigh the multitude of charges that the Philadelphia abortionist faces for butchering women and their babies. The case has gotten more attention in the mainstream media in recent weeks after conservative columnists lambasted it for ignoring a gruesome story that remains an embarrassment to the pro-choice side of the abortion debate. But it’s still unclear whether the country has even started to fully assimilate what these crimes mean about the state of health care for poor women in this country. Nor are many of us asking the big question that hangs over the Gosnell proceedings: how much of an aberration are the instances of infanticide that the testimony against the defendants revealed?

But there is one thing we know for sure. If Gosnell’s attorneys manage to convince a jury not to convict him, you can forget about any expectations that this case will lead to more scrutiny of clinics where late-term abortions are being conducted.

Abortion rights defenders are right to say that the charge that Gosnell’s crimes, which include the murder of infants born alive after botched abortions, should not be imputed to anyone else in what is a large sector of the health care industry. But the problem in Philadelphia is that due to a politically-motivated decision by a pro-choice Republican governor a decade ago, inspections of such clinics were shelved lest they be interpreted as an attempt to make abortions less available. But if a jury is persuaded that the Gosnell prosecution is about race or an attempt to roll back Roe v. Wade, the impulse in the media as well as among a political class that largely wishes to avoid entanglement in this issue will be to forget about it, allowing any other Gosnells out there to go on killing babies and mistreating their patients with impunity.

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The wait for the verdict in the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell went on today as a jury continued to weigh the multitude of charges that the Philadelphia abortionist faces for butchering women and their babies. The case has gotten more attention in the mainstream media in recent weeks after conservative columnists lambasted it for ignoring a gruesome story that remains an embarrassment to the pro-choice side of the abortion debate. But it’s still unclear whether the country has even started to fully assimilate what these crimes mean about the state of health care for poor women in this country. Nor are many of us asking the big question that hangs over the Gosnell proceedings: how much of an aberration are the instances of infanticide that the testimony against the defendants revealed?

But there is one thing we know for sure. If Gosnell’s attorneys manage to convince a jury not to convict him, you can forget about any expectations that this case will lead to more scrutiny of clinics where late-term abortions are being conducted.

Abortion rights defenders are right to say that the charge that Gosnell’s crimes, which include the murder of infants born alive after botched abortions, should not be imputed to anyone else in what is a large sector of the health care industry. But the problem in Philadelphia is that due to a politically-motivated decision by a pro-choice Republican governor a decade ago, inspections of such clinics were shelved lest they be interpreted as an attempt to make abortions less available. But if a jury is persuaded that the Gosnell prosecution is about race or an attempt to roll back Roe v. Wade, the impulse in the media as well as among a political class that largely wishes to avoid entanglement in this issue will be to forget about it, allowing any other Gosnells out there to go on killing babies and mistreating their patients with impunity.

Even if, as even most objective observers insist, what happened at one clinic in West Philadelphia is unimaginable at Planned Parenthood clinics, this trial ought to cause Americans to begin thinking about whether a politically-motivated lack of concern has created an opening for other Gosnells. One of the most powerful arguments for legalized abortion was always the certainty that whether or not they were allowed under the law, such procedures would continue to be performed. But what we have learned from the Gosnell case is that the horrors of back-alley abortions didn’t end when the Supreme Court ruled on Roe.

Even more troubling is the talk we’ve heard recently from Planned Parenthood in which it was made clear that a) some in the group think giving medical care to infants born alive after abortions was optional and b) the horror stories emanating from the Gosnell office were not considered sufficiently shocking by local Planned Parenthood officials to report them to the authorities. If such reactions are possible, then it is far from unreasonable to conclude that a culture of indifference to human life, even when it has emerged from womb, may be operating on the margins of our health care system.

Let us pray that that whatever it is that happens to Kermit Gosnell, the gut-wrenching facts of this case are sufficiently publicized to cause enough Americans to do some soul-searching about what this trial says about the state of ethics and respect for human dignity in our country today.

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Obama’s Planned Parenthood Payoff

Even in an administration as skilled in manipulating the media as that of Barack Obama, there are still some things that are more greatly valued than a finely crafted piece of political spin. One of those is the need to pay back supporters for their efforts in the president’s re-election campaign. That’s why President Obama will be addressing Planned Parenthood in Washington on Friday. Given the prominent role that PP President Cecile Richards played last year as surrogate speaker for the president, and the organization’s central part in promoting the idea that Republicans were waging a “war on women,” Obama’s decision to speak at the event seems only natural. But the timing of his appearance at a Planned Parenthood conference couldn’t be worse.

The problem stems from the admission on the part of an official of the group’s Southeastern Pennsylvania affiliate reported last week by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Speaking with Gloria Steinem at the group’s annual Spring Gathering at Philadelphia’s Constitution Center, Dayle Steinberg said Planned Parenthood was aware of problems at the infamous abortion clinic operated by Kermit Gosnell:

Steinberg said that when Gosnell was in practice, women would sometimes come to Planned Parenthood for services after first visiting Gosnell’s West Philadelphia clinic, and would complain to staff about the conditions there.

“We would always encourage them to report it to the Department of Health,” Steinberg said as she sat with Steinem before Tuesday’s events.

While this doesn’t make the group responsible for the atrocities that were allegedly committed by Gosnell, it does raise questions as to why an organization avowedly dedicated to protecting the health of women chose not to take any action on its own or to investigate what was going on. As Wesley J. Smith noted at National Review yesterday, it does remind one of the old saying, “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Coming as it does, in the aftermath of a damaging comment by a Florida Planned Parenthood official who thought whether clinic personnel should render medical assistance to a baby born as a result of a botched abortion was an open question, the comments about the ongoing Gosnell trial might have made the group politically toxic. But President Obama owes Planned Parenthood too much to pass on a chance to embrace them.

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Even in an administration as skilled in manipulating the media as that of Barack Obama, there are still some things that are more greatly valued than a finely crafted piece of political spin. One of those is the need to pay back supporters for their efforts in the president’s re-election campaign. That’s why President Obama will be addressing Planned Parenthood in Washington on Friday. Given the prominent role that PP President Cecile Richards played last year as surrogate speaker for the president, and the organization’s central part in promoting the idea that Republicans were waging a “war on women,” Obama’s decision to speak at the event seems only natural. But the timing of his appearance at a Planned Parenthood conference couldn’t be worse.

The problem stems from the admission on the part of an official of the group’s Southeastern Pennsylvania affiliate reported last week by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Speaking with Gloria Steinem at the group’s annual Spring Gathering at Philadelphia’s Constitution Center, Dayle Steinberg said Planned Parenthood was aware of problems at the infamous abortion clinic operated by Kermit Gosnell:

Steinberg said that when Gosnell was in practice, women would sometimes come to Planned Parenthood for services after first visiting Gosnell’s West Philadelphia clinic, and would complain to staff about the conditions there.

“We would always encourage them to report it to the Department of Health,” Steinberg said as she sat with Steinem before Tuesday’s events.

While this doesn’t make the group responsible for the atrocities that were allegedly committed by Gosnell, it does raise questions as to why an organization avowedly dedicated to protecting the health of women chose not to take any action on its own or to investigate what was going on. As Wesley J. Smith noted at National Review yesterday, it does remind one of the old saying, “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Coming as it does, in the aftermath of a damaging comment by a Florida Planned Parenthood official who thought whether clinic personnel should render medical assistance to a baby born as a result of a botched abortion was an open question, the comments about the ongoing Gosnell trial might have made the group politically toxic. But President Obama owes Planned Parenthood too much to pass on a chance to embrace them.

The increased coverage given the Gosnell trial as a result of criticism of the major media blackout of the story should have put Planned Parenthood in the cross hairs of the controversy after Steinberg’s statement. But the same outlets that were doing their best to ignore Gosnell are not saying much, if anything, about Steinberg’s admission. The reason for this is obvious, even for those who support abortion rights. While groups like Planned Parenthood assert that Gosnell’s crimes make the need for quality health care, such as the services they provide, even more important, the trial’s revelations about the cavalier way late-term abortions are carried out seems to make many people in the “pro-choice” community—a term that includes much of the media—uncomfortable.

Planned Parenthood retracted their Florida representative’s statement about babies born after attempted abortions and now they need to answer some questions about Gosnell. But none of this is likely to affect an Obama White House that sees the group as integral to their struggle to depict their opponents as hostile to women’s health care.

Whatever one may think about the charge that Republicans were waging a war on women (a canard that was boosted by the stupid comments of former Representative Todd Akin about abortion and rape), Steinberg’s statements give the impression that Planned Parenthood was indifferent to the war Kermit Gosnell was waging on women and babies at his West Philadelphia clinic. That might have caused a president less beholden to them to stay away from them. But the debt the president owes the group is far greater than any questions that might be asked about his presence at their event.

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Where Is the Promised Coverage of the Gosnell Trial?

The few straight news reporters covering the Kermit Gosnell case have all seemingly come to the same conclusion: It’s one of, if not the most, gripping trials they have ever witnessed. Last week, an uproar started by blogger Mollie Hemingway led many mainstream outlets to justify their non-coverage of the case and the trial. Some, including Slate‘s Dave Weigel, admitted that at least part of the reason for the lack of coverage is a pro-choice bias among most reporters who were dissuaded from an obviously newsworthy trial by the way this particular case undermines pro-abortion absolutism.

The Washington Post‘s Sarah Kliff initially told Hemingway that she would not be covering the trial because it was a local crime story, off her beat as a national healthcare reporter. Hemingway, in response, produced a tally of all of the other “local crime stories” that Kliff deemed appropriate to cover, including the 2009 murder of abortionist George Tiller. After the crush of attention the New York Times and the Washington Post both agreed to send reporters to the trial and the media, who have been few in number throughout the trial thus far, reported on the presence of these mainstream reporters among their ranks. 

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The few straight news reporters covering the Kermit Gosnell case have all seemingly come to the same conclusion: It’s one of, if not the most, gripping trials they have ever witnessed. Last week, an uproar started by blogger Mollie Hemingway led many mainstream outlets to justify their non-coverage of the case and the trial. Some, including Slate‘s Dave Weigel, admitted that at least part of the reason for the lack of coverage is a pro-choice bias among most reporters who were dissuaded from an obviously newsworthy trial by the way this particular case undermines pro-abortion absolutism.

The Washington Post‘s Sarah Kliff initially told Hemingway that she would not be covering the trial because it was a local crime story, off her beat as a national healthcare reporter. Hemingway, in response, produced a tally of all of the other “local crime stories” that Kliff deemed appropriate to cover, including the 2009 murder of abortionist George Tiller. After the crush of attention the New York Times and the Washington Post both agreed to send reporters to the trial and the media, who have been few in number throughout the trial thus far, reported on the presence of these mainstream reporters among their ranks. 

Two days ago on Hot Air Ed Morrissey posted a guest blog from a documentarian, Phelim McAleer, who decided to spend a few days in the media benches while visiting Philadelphia. McAleer told Hot Air readers:

I have covered the troubles in Northern Ireland and child trafficking in Indonesia and Romania. I have never come across a more sensational case. There is plenty of meat for the tabloid or the “serious” journalist. That they have mostly ignored it is part of the reason their industry is in decline.

McAleer discussed how few in number his fellow reporters were (just three locals) and how, despite the fact that this is likely one of the largest mass murders in American history, his notes on the trial will be one of the only records of the case outside of court documents. Yesterday, more news emerged on the trial’s progress. A local Philadelphia paper describes the theatrics between the prosecution, defense and the trial judge: 

“Based on the totality of the evidence . . . you cannot testify to anyone that this fetus was born alive?” Gosnell lawyer Jack McMahon asked Medical Examiner Sam Gulino.

“No I cannot,” replied Gulino.

Then Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron flipped around McMahon’s question: “Can you think of any reason why the neck was severed if that baby was not born alive?”

Again, Gulino agreed. McMahon tried to salvage his first answer, only to be interrupted by Cameron.

McMahon exploded in anger, but was topped by Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart.

“Mr. McMahon, behave yourself!” yelled Minehart. “Act like a lawyer.”

Lawyers and judges exploding in anger is something seen often on crime shows like Law & Order but which McAleer claims is, in real-life courtrooms, exceedingly rare. The testimony that followed helps explain why tensions have run high over the course of the trial: the details are horrific. Yesterday’s evidence centered on the dozens of human remains stored at the clinic, sometimes overflowing the toilets, complete with horrifying photographic evidence. The family of the adult victim, a 41-year-old woman, wept in the stands today listening to testimony. All of these details appeared yesterday in the local Philadelphia media.

After the media bias uproar started by Hemingway, which gained momentum on Thursday night, Americans were promised coverage of the trial, finally. So where is it? Reporting on the lack of media attention doesn’t count. The Post‘s Kliff has written a summary of the case for her readers, posted yesterday, who before then were completely unaware of the case if the Post is their only source of news. Late last night the Post‘s reporter on scene filed a story about the only adult victim Gosnell is on trial for murdering, a survivor of camps in Nepal which ran on page A2 of today’s edition of the paper. There was little mention of Gosnell’s alleged infant victims, but still, it’s a start. Where are the cable news stories and where are the dispatches on the graphic and gripping details from this week’s testimony from other national reporters on scene? 

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The Lethal Logic Behind the Abortion Rights Movement

Kirsten Powers wrote a powerful piece in USA Today on the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. (The 72-year-old Gosnell is charged with killing a woman patient and seven babies.) 

By all accounts Gosnell was a butcher of newborn, or about to be born, babies. The specifics are gruesome but probably necessary to comprehend the level of depravity we’re talking about. So here we go.

This account comes to us courtesy of delawareonline.com (h/t Allahpundit): 

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Kirsten Powers wrote a powerful piece in USA Today on the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. (The 72-year-old Gosnell is charged with killing a woman patient and seven babies.) 

By all accounts Gosnell was a butcher of newborn, or about to be born, babies. The specifics are gruesome but probably necessary to comprehend the level of depravity we’re talking about. So here we go.

This account comes to us courtesy of delawareonline.com (h/t Allahpundit): 

A Delaware woman who worked for Kermit Gosnell testified Tuesday that she was called back to a room at his abortion clinic in Philadelphia where the bodies of aborted babies were kept on a shelf to hear one screaming amid the bodies of aborted babies kept on a shelf….

“I can’t describe it. It sounded like a little alien,” [Sherry] West said, telling the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge and jury that the body of the child was about 18 to 24 inches long and was one of the largest babies she had seen delivered during abortion procedures at the Women’s Medical Society clinic….

West, who said she called aborted babies “specimens” because “it was easier to deal with mentally,” said a co-worker had called her back to the room that night because she did not know what to do. West said the baby’s eyes and mouth were not yet completely formed and it was lying on a glass tray on a shelf and she told the co-worker to call Gosnell and fled the room.

She later made it clear that she called it “a baby” in her testimony “because that is what it is.”

And this from NBC Philadelphia:

An unlicensed medical school graduate delivered graphic testimony about the chaos at a Philadelphia clinic where he helped perform late-term abortions.

Stephen Massof described how he snipped the spinal cords of babies, calling it, “literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body.” He testified that at times, when women were given medicine to speed up their deliveries, “it would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.”

About all this I wanted to make several points, the first of which is that this is the kind of brutality many people in the pro-life movement warned was at the end of the lethal logic behind the abortion rights movement. If we accept–and in some quarters, celebrate–abortion as a modern emancipation, you end up with people like Kermit Gosnell, who view an unborn child that has been targeted for abortion as marked for death even after birth. And before you dismiss Gosnell’s views as rare among those who champion abortion rights, consider the views of representatives of Planned Parenthood, an organization which (a) receives $500 million in government subsidies and (b) is the most conspicuous abortion rights group in America.

As George Will tells it:

Recently in Florida, Alisa LaPolt Snow, representing Florida Planned Parenthood organizations, testified against a bill that would require abortionists to provide medical care to babies who survive attempted abortions. Snow was asked: “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?” Snow replied: “We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family and the physician.” She added, “That decision should be between the patient and the health care provider.” To this, a Florida legislator responded: “I think that at that point the patient would be the child struggling on a table. Wouldn’t you agree?”

As I said, there is a lethal logic at work here. 

In light of this, perhaps it’s worth reconsidering how absurd it is to portray those who oppose abortions as waging an imaginary “war on women” while ignoring the very real war on the unborn and the newborn.

Which brings us, finally, to the matter of media bias. As Powers points out, the elite press obsessed over Rush Limbaugh’s reference to Sandra Fluke as a “slut”–a comment for which Limbaugh apologized–while they have paid almost no attention to the Gosnell trial. Perhaps it’s because the Limbaugh story allowed many journalists to zero in on someone they loathe while the Gosnell story poses a terribly inconvenient challenge to their sanitized, settled views on abortion. It complicates matters immensely when you have to make room in this discussion for the baby who suffers a severed neck before being aborted, doesn’t it? 

My guess is most journalists (and most people who consider themselves pro-choice) would not feel comfortable defending what Dr. Gosnell did, even if they can’t articulate where exactly (or why exactly) a line should be drawn that separates a woman’s right to choose and a baby’s right to live. Rather, I suspect they are avoiding the story because it demonstrates an undeniable fact: abortion is an act of violence against an unborn child.

It isn’t easy to defend such things. So why not just ignore them? Because that’s what journalists are supposed to do. Isn’t it?

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Why They Won’t Talk About Kermit Gosnell

In 2011, the journalist Mara Hvistendahl published Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, detailing the societal effects of sex-selective abortions that target women the world over and resulted in the absence of perhaps more than 100 million girls who by now should have been born. But Hvistendahl soon learned the downside to uncovering what many believe to be a shocking trend in human rights offenses: people will want to do something about it. And so she lashed out, declaring that “anti-abortion activists have been at work in a disingenuous game, using the stark reduction of women in the developing world” to argue for pro-life policies that could save those women.

Hvistendahl’s plaint recalled the incredible work of Edwin Black, most notably his book War Against the Weak, which detailed the role American eugenics played in the monstrous ethnic cleansing in Europe in the 20th century culminating in the Holocaust. One of the most important personalities in this terrible saga was the eugenicist Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood. Yet like Hvistendahl, Black was concerned about the implications of what he had uncovered. In the introduction, he writes: “Opponents of a woman’s right to choose could easily seize upon Margaret Sanger’s eugenic rhetoric to discredit the admirable work of Planned Parenthood today; I oppose such misuse.”

But what Black and Hvistendahl betray in their defensiveness is an awareness that an ideology that supports unlimited (or practically unlimited) abortion has consequences, and those consequences are exacerbated immensely by the fact that the supposedly “progressive” practitioners of such an ideology resort to the denial of human life where it obviously exists. To dehumanize is to invite a world of trouble. And that world of trouble unfortunately empowers evil such as that displayed by the “doctor” Kermit Gosnell, who stands accused of using his Philadelphia abortion practice to provide what is essentially child execution by killing babies who survive an abortion procedure and are born alive.

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In 2011, the journalist Mara Hvistendahl published Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, detailing the societal effects of sex-selective abortions that target women the world over and resulted in the absence of perhaps more than 100 million girls who by now should have been born. But Hvistendahl soon learned the downside to uncovering what many believe to be a shocking trend in human rights offenses: people will want to do something about it. And so she lashed out, declaring that “anti-abortion activists have been at work in a disingenuous game, using the stark reduction of women in the developing world” to argue for pro-life policies that could save those women.

Hvistendahl’s plaint recalled the incredible work of Edwin Black, most notably his book War Against the Weak, which detailed the role American eugenics played in the monstrous ethnic cleansing in Europe in the 20th century culminating in the Holocaust. One of the most important personalities in this terrible saga was the eugenicist Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood. Yet like Hvistendahl, Black was concerned about the implications of what he had uncovered. In the introduction, he writes: “Opponents of a woman’s right to choose could easily seize upon Margaret Sanger’s eugenic rhetoric to discredit the admirable work of Planned Parenthood today; I oppose such misuse.”

But what Black and Hvistendahl betray in their defensiveness is an awareness that an ideology that supports unlimited (or practically unlimited) abortion has consequences, and those consequences are exacerbated immensely by the fact that the supposedly “progressive” practitioners of such an ideology resort to the denial of human life where it obviously exists. To dehumanize is to invite a world of trouble. And that world of trouble unfortunately empowers evil such as that displayed by the “doctor” Kermit Gosnell, who stands accused of using his Philadelphia abortion practice to provide what is essentially child execution by killing babies who survive an abortion procedure and are born alive.

The details of Gosnell’s alleged actions are more than unpleasant; they are damned-near soul scarring. And they are coming out because he is on trial for them, because what he is accused of is murder.

You may not have heard much about Gosnell’s case. That’s because the mainstream press has chosen by and large to ignore it. There is no area of American politics in which the press is more activist or biased or unethical than social issues, the so-called culture wars. And the culture of permissive abortion they favor has consequences, which they would rather not look squarely at, thank you very much. The liberal commentator Kirsten Powers has written a tremendous op-ed in USA Today on Gosnell and the media blackout. Powers writes of the gruesome admissions that Gosnell’s former employees are making in court, some of which amount to “literally a beheading” and other stomach-turning descriptions. On the media’s refusal to inform the public, Powers writes:

A Lexis-Nexis search shows none of the news shows on the three major national television networks has mentioned the Gosnell trial in the last three months. The exception is when Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan hijacked a segment on Meet the Press meant to foment outrage over an anti-abortion rights law in some backward red state.

The Washington Post has not published original reporting on this during the trial and The New York Times saw fit to run one original story on A-17 on the trial’s first day. They’ve been silent ever since, despite headline-worthy testimony….

You don’t have to oppose abortion rights to find late-term abortion abhorrent or to find the Gosnell trial eminently newsworthy. This is not about being “pro-choice” or “pro-life.” It’s about basic human rights.

The media should be ashamed beyond description for this behavior. The American left should come to terms with what it means to talk about a human life as if it were a parasite, or merely a clump of cells. And they should most certainly stop lecturing the rest of us on compassion, on pity, on social obligation, on morality.

Powers is right when she says the alleged revelations about Gosnell “should shock anyone with a heart.” Which is precisely what the press is avoiding.

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