I worked at at an abortion clinic in Philadelphia. We tried to get an investigation into #Gosnell countless times. No one listened.
— Steph Herold (@StephHerold) April 12, 2013
A reader writes:
I think you should post something about how the media is not deliberately covering up the Dr. Gosnell case. In fact, several media outlets have been covering it since 2011, as detailed by Irin Carmon.
Regarding the Gosnell case, I’m in the Philadelphia region, so I was a little baffled by the claims of a lack of coverage. The detailed descriptions have been in the local news for some time, so all of this is old news. But I also read a lot of blogs/journals from the left, where it’s been discussed a lot. Heck, Patrick had a good post back in 2011 for the Dish, citing several other posts talking about it.
The distinction is that while there may be a lack of coverage by national mainstream media outlets at this time (I’ve seen posts from 2011 from NYT, CNN and others), the interesting part is that the idea that the MSM is part of a vast left-wing conspiracy. The left has been all over this story since the beginning. But for many, there is no distinction between the left and the so-called “liberal media”, so when they turn on CNN and don’t see any mention of the story on this particular day, it’s clear to them the liberals are burying this story.
Also, Ross Douthat made some interesting points about how people on the various sides of the issue are treating it in a general sense. I normally roll my eyes at his analysis, but I may have to rethink how I read him going forward given how thoughtful his approach is at the moment.
Another focuses on what the Gosnell story means for the abortion debate:
As someone who favors womens’ access to safe, affordable, and legal abortion, but who also favors added restrictions the closer the pregnancy has come to term, I wonder about another angle to this story. As more and more state governments seek ways around Roe v. Wade to shut down their last abortion providers, and those that remain are subject to constant extra-legal intimidation, I’m afraid that more and more women will be exposed to the Kermit Gosnells of the world when they can no longer access facilities run by Planned Parenthood or similar well-regulated providers.
Another is more direct:
When abortion is legal, it’s one of the safest medical procedures out there. When it’s made illegal and pushed underground, Gosnell is what happens. Women become desperate and will do anything, include risk their lives with an unlicensed provider, to be not pregnant. This is what pro-choice activists are fighting AGAINST. We are just as horrified as so-called “pro-life” supporters about what Gosnell did. However, OUR policies will prevent it from happening again. Anti-abortion policies encourage it.
Another comes from a very different direction:
In reference to your “It’s So Personal” series on the matter, I think it is important to point something out: The difference between what Gosnell did to the babies, and what George Tiller did, was merely a matter of inches. Where Gosnell fully extracted the child before severing the spine, Tiller only did partial extractions before the “snip” – so as not to be accused of murder. Like you, I am opposed to abortion but I can live in a world where it’s legal in early term. But in the barbarity of what needs to be done to terminate a 3rd trimester pregnancy, I see no difference between Tiller and Gosnell. Just because Tiller had a clean clinic and treated the mothers with dignity and care does not excuse what boils down to simple infanticide. Both men are monsters.
Update from a reader:
Your reader who insisted that the difference between Tiller and Gosnell is “a matter of inches” ignores that Tiller took patients with third trimester pregnancies who met legal standards for abortion, i.e., who carried fetuses with severe or fatal birth defects or who faced a “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” as result of the pregnancy certified independently by two other doctors, while Gosnell, on the evidence, seems to have taken desperate, often poor patients with late pregnancies but apparently no medical need, and failed to treat them by any proper medical standard. The anti-abortion movement wants desperately to make this about the possibly viable baby, but the legality depends upon whether the pregnant woman is receiving appropriate medical care.
The saddest part for me is that so many of Gosnell’s patients were women who had to save money for an abortion and missed the cut-off for standard medical abortion. I used to think of abortion as a moral issue, but the more time I spend working in poor neighborhoods, the more I realize that birth control and abortion is primarily an economic issue for poor women, who can’t afford to miss work, to take time off from jobs, to pay for a larger family. The stories from Gosnell’s clinic are heartbreaking, but the right ought to see this outrageous moral failure as the consequence of a series of smaller failures.