Screaming, 8-month-old fetuses being born alive and then beheaded. Dead babies stuffed in trash cans. Jars filled with severed infants’ feet. “Haven’t heard about these sickening accusations? It’s not your fault,” said Kirsten Powers in USA Today. Since the murder trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell began last month, the mainstream media has almost entirely ignored a “case that should be on every news show and front page.” Gosnell, who is charged with killing seven infants born alive and a woman who died during a botched procedure, operated a filthy charnel house where abortions were routinely carried out past Pennsylvania’s 24-week limit. Births were induced in the sixth, seventh, and eighth months of pregnancy, and Gosnell then dispatched the squirming babies by snipping their spines at the neck with scissors. Liberal media outlets would have given this wall-to-wall, sensational coverage “if Gosnell had killed dogs,” said Erick Erickson in RedState.com. But since he only murdered babies, they largely buried their heads, fearing it would expose the true horror of legalized abortion.
“There is no liberal media cover-up,” said Irin Carmon in Salon.com. Feminist and pro-choice columnists wrote extensively about the case when the doc was arrested in 2011, rightly observing that this butchery was a direct result of growing restrictions on safe and legal abortions. Why did poor and desperate inner-city women seek abortions from a “monster”? Because public funding for abortions is illegal, and Pennsylvania’s strict laws greatly reduced the number of available clinics. Gosnell charged $300, instead of the $1,000 of well-run clinics, and while his customers saved up for his fee, their pregnancies moved into the sixth and seventh months, when abortion is almost always illegal. “Gosnell’s willingness to break the law was what made him their last chance.” When these women showed up for their appointments, said Katha Pollitt in The Nation, they were herded like animals into blood-spattered rooms, overdosed with sedating drugs, and operated on with unsterilized equipment that spread venereal diseases and infections. “Only women who felt they had no better alternative would have accepted such dangerous, degrading, and frightening treatment.”
But as a pro-choice woman, said Megan McArdle in TheDailyBeast.com,I have to admit that journalists like me saw the Gosnell trial as bad for “our side.” Consciously or unconsciously, we feared what “a revolted public” would conclude about the morality of abortion, especially those performed late in pregnancy. People should be revolted, said Jonah Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times.What’s the “moral difference between killing a living baby that is outside the mother for a few seconds, and killing one that’s still inside”? No wonder the pro-choice media found this trial so...inconvenient.
If pro-choicers were less absolute in their views, said James Kirchick in the New York Daily News,they wouldn’t have shied away from the Gosnell case. Too many pro-choicers, though, refuse to admit that an unborn child is anything more than “a clump of cells,” or that there is anything “morally fraught” about abortion—even late in a pregnancy. That’s why this case—with its graphic evidence about fetuses that were obviously babies—presented such a threat to their belief system. The irony is that Gosnell’s practices also show America what abortion was like in the coat-hanger mills before Roe v. Wade—and what it will be like again if abortion ever becomes illegal. Ban abortion, and “you will not do away with the Kermit Gosnells. You will multiply them.”