Quotes of the day

Former abortion clinic worker James Johnson testified today during the murder trial of Kermit Gosnell and provided jurors with a nauseating account of the horrific conditions at the abortion facility…

His job was to collect abortion remains and take them to basement — but he eventually refused to participate and bags began piling up.

He told the jury toilets backed up one-two times a week and said he opened the outside clean out pipe and fetal parts such as babies’ arms came spilling out.


I think it’s important to recognize that this particular procedure is nowhere in the medical literature. When a procedure that usually involves the collapsing of the skull is done, it’s usually done when the fetus is still in the uterus, not when the fetus has been delivered.

So this technique that he does is nowhere in the lexicon of practice in abortion care. So, in terms of thinking about the difference between the way abortion providers who do later abortions in the United States practice, and this particular practice, they are completely worlds apart.

Traditionally, when that procedure is done which involves the collapsing of the skull, it’s done at the junction between the later second trimester and the beginning of the third trimester — that’s around 24 weeks. It is not done at this significantly later period.


It’s natural to think that some of the lack of interest stems from the gruesomeness of the details. Gosnell’s “practice” was so grisly that some people might wish to turn away and ignore the nightmare. But unpalatable images and facts don’t stop the media from reporting on the horrors of famine-stricken North Korea, even though there are almost no pictures available. It seems undeniable, then, that abortion politics played a role in the blackout. When Mullane asked a member of the court’s staff why there was so little media interest, the man pointed to the filthy medical equipment set up in the courtroom as an exhibit and asked, “If you’re pro-choice, do you really want anybody to know about this?”

It’s sad that it took a liberal such as [Kirsten] Powers to shame so many journos into waking up and doing their jobs. The blunt truth is that if a conservative had written her piece, the response would have been far more muted — or journalists would have attacked the messenger.


The problem with Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist on trial for killing a mother and at least seven infants born alive after botched abortions, is that the government has too many anti-abortion regulations and not enough public funds for providing abortions to poor women. That’s according to the participants on a conference call hosted by RH Reality Check, a news and commentary website focused on “reproductive & sexual health and justice.”

The speakers on the call agreed that excessively stringent government regulations on abortion practices keep the practice “far away from professional medicine.” This results in, they argue, the kind of hellish, underground abortion clinics like Gosnell’s.


As Baby Boy A lay in that plastic shoebox, he didn’t look any different than a sleeping newborn. In the picture one of Gosnell’s aides took, you see his hair, his pinkish skin tone. That was the boy that Gosnell is now accused of murdering. And that’s also what babies look like when one of Gosnell’s law-abiding colleagues, such as late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart, who operates in Germantown, Md., snips their spines with scissors.

In his first U.S. Senate race, Obama used Carhart’s procedure as a fundraising pitch. In a 2004 campaign mailing, Michelle Obama tried to rally the donor base by explaining how Republicans were trying to ban partial-birth abortion, “a legitimate medical procedure,” as Michelle put it.

The most substantive difference between the partial-birth abortions on which Obama fundraised and Gosnell’s abortions is this: Dr. Gosnell did the snipping outside of the mother’s birth canal, while Dr. Carhart reaches his scissors inside the woman’s vagina to snip the baby’s spine.

This fact points us to the most likely reason the mainstream media ignored the story as long as possible: The Gosnell story has an inherent pro-life bias, because the Gosnell story leads us to discussing abortion procedures.


Which “side” was Dr. Frankenstein to Dr. Gosnell? Well, there’s no mystery about where Gosnell could have gotten the idea that his youngest victims weren’t human, or entitled to any protection under the law. There aren’t just two sides, though, but a whole continuum of points of view, from those who see several cells as a legal person to those who insist that even a baby who could walk Kermit Gosnell to the bus stop is only a person if his mom says so.

Gosnell himself seemed confused, when he was charged with so many counts of murder, as to how that could be. Because even at that point, he didn’t appear to see the children he’s accused of beheading as people

Recently, MSNBC host Melissa Harris mocked those who see a fertilized egg as a fully human person: “I get,” she said, “that that’s a particular kind of faith claim that’s not associated with science.”

But I wish she and those who agree with her also got this: To insist that a baby born at 30 weeks, as one of Gosnell’s victims was, only qualifies as a person if his mom decides to keep him is also “a particular kind of faith claim that’s not associated with science.”


The behavior of news organizations often owes more to chaos theory than conspiracy theory. I don’t think that editors and reporters got together and decided not to give the Gosnell trial a lot of attention because it would highlight the evils of abortion.

I do think that it wasn’t on their radar screen – and that it should have been. The murders of seven newborn babies, done so horrifically, would be no ordinary crime. Any suggestion, including mine on Friday, that this is just another murder trial is a miscalculation. And it’s certainly possible that journalists who were more in touch with conservative voices and causes would have picked up on the importance of this trial sooner…

Those who have called for more attention to this grisly and disturbing trial are right. But some of them — because of their accusations of politics overcoming news judgment – are right for the wrong reasons.


What do we mean when we call for the abolition of the Roe regime? Simply this: a reversal of Supreme Court precedent, an acknowledgment by the court that it erred when it decided Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That would turn the question of abortion back to the states and the people, where the 10th Amendment makes clear it belongs.

The abortion debate needs more politics, not less. As we noted above, drawing the line between acceptable abortion and homicide is necessarily an arbitrary exercise. For judges to issue arbitrary rulings is a corruption of the judicial function. But the production of arbitrary results–imperfect but workable arrangements that can be revised if necessary to adapt to new circumstances or knowledge–is the essence of politics.

A reversal of Roe and Casey would no more yield a consensus than the decisions themselves did. Neither the worst pro-abortion fears nor the fondest antiabortion hopes would be realized. Abortion would remain legal in many states, and any hope for a “Human Life Amendment” to the Constitution would be a pipe dream, the same as it is today. But in the absence of consensus, politics in a democratic republic would produce that least bad outcome: compromise.


My sense is that, with the outpouring over the Gosnell case, the reportorial dynamic on life issues is due for a sea change. Abortion on the pro-life side of the ledger is no longer a niche concern and journalists would do well to acknowledge this and adjust their coverage accordingly. Either that or get ready for thousands upon thousands of angry tweets.



In a HuffPost Live segment today on the issue, host Marc Lamont Hill made clear where his theoretical thinking lay:

“For what it’s worth, I do think that those of us on the left have made a decision not to cover this trial because we worry that it’ll compromise abortion rights. Whether you agree with abortion or not, I do think there’s a direct connection between the media’s failure to cover this and our own political commitments on the left. I think it’s a bad idea, I think it’s dangerous, but I think that’s the way it is.”

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