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The banality of the defense of the #Gosnell news blackout

The banality of the defense of the #Gosnell news blackout

The Gosnell trial is about the killing of infants born alive and a mother undergoing an abortion.

The reaction, however, is not just to the killing of an infant born alive after an abortion, it is to the dismemberment, decapitation, and other gruesome means of killing the unwanted child.

The exposure has abortion advocates worried.  We have seen a misleading and unsupported pushback suggesting that feminists have been in the lead in exposing Gosnell when in fact feminists were reacting to pro-life criticism of Gosnell, as I wrote in shouts “Look, Squirrel!” to deflect #Gosnell outrage.

Scott Lemieux, writing at the liberal American Prospect, sees the danger of Gosnell’s horrors being generalized and argues the now-standard point that the answer to Gosnell is more abortions in hospitals and cleaner environments:

Finally, the Gosnell case is an illustration of a deeper problem with abortion politics in the United States. A number of pundits—most notably Slate‘s William Saletan and The Daily Beast‘s Megan McArdle—have argued that even though it’s best that abortion remain formally legal, pro-choicers should concede that abortion is an icky, immoral procedure that should be discouraged. But the stigmatization of abortion, as it functions in the United States, greatly harms women. In most other liberal democracies, the Gosnell clinic wouldn’t be an issue because even poor women could obtain safe abortions in a public hospital…. The best way to prevent future Gosnells is to treat pre-viability abortions like the ordinary, safe medical procedures they in fact are, not to engage in sexist moralizing.

Here is an unborn child at 12 weeks (via WebMD):

And 20 weeks:

Aborting these children is legal using the procedures used by Gosnell, albeit in utero, although the 20th week is a frequent cut-off point used in proposed state legislation.

The dismemberment of these children in utero receives about as much mainstream media coverage as the Gosnell trial received until late last week.  The fear among pro-abortion advocates seems to be that Gosnell may change media coverage and public perception not only of infants born alive, but of abortion more generally.

A writer at The Washington Post argues that the lack of mainstream media coverage is not the result of pro-abortion media bias, but “something far more banal.”

I can’t believe WaPo used that term.

Update:  Andrew McCarthy describes the dehumanizing terms utilized by the courts in discussing abortion procedures, From Dehumanizing Word Games to Gosnell (h/t @backyardconserv).


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The “banality of evil” perfectly describes the everyday state of affairs that allows defenseless human beings to be destroyed by the will of the general public and specifically under the Democratic Party Platform.

Evil is made to look like a necessary “good.”

The synthesis of good with evil will continue in a major way in the next few years. It will affect our language, our education, our belief systems – everything will be corrupted and children will continue to be murdered.

1. There you go again, Bill.


Scott Lemieux, writing at the liberal American Prospect, sees the danger of Gosnell’s horrors being generalized…:

A number of pundits—most notably Slate‘s William Saletan and The Daily Beast‘s Megan McArdle—have argued that even though it’s best that abortion remain formally legal, pro-choicers should concede that abortion is an icky, immoral procedure that should be discouraged.

Afaic abortion is an immoral procedure. The question is at what point, and to what degree, the force of the State should be deployed.

More Lemieux:

But the stigmatization of abortion, as it functions in the United States, greatly harms women.


In most other liberal democracies, the Gosnell clinic wouldn’t be an issue because even poor women could obtain safe abortions in a public hospital….

Ah, yes. Things are great in ______ (fill in any country except the USA).

The best way to prevent future Gosnells is to treat pre-viability abortions like the ordinary, safe medical procedures they in fact are, not to engage in sexist moralizing.

What happened to keeping abortion safe, legal and rare?

3. I see absolutists on both side of the abortion struggle rushing to draw unwarranted sweeping conclusions from the Gosnell atrocities. Afaic at present the anti-abortion side has a structural advantage in the controversy.

4. Maybe (or not) America will be ready to ban abortion in a decade or few. Who knows? Who would have anticipated what would happen to the conservative movement after Reagan’s triumphs?

5. But it would be nice if the country didn’t disintegrate, or turn into France, in the meantime. Those are the outcomes which abortion opponents are risking by the pigheaded way they pursue their goals.

    JerryB in reply to gs. | April 15, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    1. There you go again, Bill.

    …and keep it up. gs is fine with killing-in-the-meantime. Here’s to “pigheaded”-ness.

      Ragspierre in reply to JerryB. | April 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      In fairness, I don’t think gs is pro-abortion…is in fact pro-life.

      He just finds some of the positions of pro-life advocates less than productive.

      He can correct me, as needed.

        My sympathies are more with the anti-abortion side than with their opposites, but I wouldn’t ban abortion altogether. IMO the issue should be left to the states until/unless a national consensus emerges which is adequate to pass a constitutional amendment. Without going over it word by word, I’m okay with the look and feel of this.

        When you wander in no man’s land, both sides will shoot at you. Since I’m closer to the “pro-life” side without actually being in their trench, it’s not surprising that I take more fire from that direction. Being a Cassander is no fun, but, yeah, I worry that conservatives have been, and are, blowing it, and not just on abortion.

        I’m busy just now. There will be plenty of occasions to give invective like JerryB’s the response it deserves. I wish Bill would recognize that some stuff in his comment section alienates people whom LI should be persuading. IMHO LI should police comments for civility or eliminate them altogether…but it’s not my blog.

          JerryB in reply to gs. | April 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm

          Invective? You have it backwards. Pigheaded is your term. I’m proudly wearing it, and hoping the Prof will, too.

          gs in reply to gs. | April 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm

          Proudly pigheaded? Alinskyites, Marxists, and similar radicals have no such compunctions.

          If they take over the country, people like you will have much to answer for, here and hereafter.

“Her thesis is that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths, but by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.”

Which is EXACTLY what you have here…

“The best way to prevent future Gosnells is to treat pre-viability abortions like the ordinary, safe medical procedures they in fact are, not to engage in sexist moralizing.”

Well, with a lil’ playing of the “sexist” and “moralist” cards…

You have to accept that killing a human being is not killing a being.

I’m 100% POSITIVE that abortionists’ mothers didn’t go through the procedure before giving birth. They must be SO HAPPY!

Harry Flashman | April 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm

First time commenter here, but I can’t resist asking a question that I haven’t seen asked anywhere else to this point something of a philisophical query…..

With much wailing and gnashing of teeth the left screeched and clawed to get their free birth control, saying in essence it was some sort of fundamental right (an absurd notion but an argument for another time) so here’s my question:

If birth control is free now (or soon), why are abortions still even remotely considered a viable legal and ethical procedure?

Aside from the barbaric and savage things Gosnell did, why would abortions still be available if EVERY WOMAN IN AMERICA CAN GET FREE BIRTH CONTROL? Am I missing something here?

Shouldn’t it be a crime to murder a child you did NOT have to conceive in the first place?

    Some of these women were repeat customers. They were using abortion as their primary method of birth control.

    by the way — birth control is cheap to free, and readily available through Planned Parenthood as well as every local pharmacy and grocery store.

      Ragspierre in reply to Valerie. | April 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      A decade or two ago, I listened to an NPR segment featuring a young graduate student who had had FOUR abortions during her college time.

      It was just her birth control of choice.

    anothercrawfish in reply to Harry Flashman. | April 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    The problem you are having is simply that you don’t understand liberals. There are two words that conservatives live by that liberals don’t understand, don’t believe in, feel above of, or some combination of the three. Those words are “personal responsibility”. They don’t care how many babies they create and destroy because they can’t or don’t accept the idea that they are responsible for that child they are throwing into the trash can.

    A study done in Spain showed that more birth control = more abortions. Interesting, huh?

    Birth control doesn’t always work, and if you promote more sexual recreation – even with more birth control – it raises the number of “oops” pregnancies, thus raising the number of abortions.

    The only thing that works is to stop using sex as a hobby, and to consider what it actually is: procreation. What I mean by this is to have the continual understanding that a child can result because that’s what the act is for.

    What everyone missed about the Bristol Palin pregnancy mess is that that is how life is supposed to work. People on the Right (those of us who think like Sarah Palin) don’t think no one ever has sex. Instead, they say, “Don’t do it. You’re not smart enough or mature enough. Get another hobby.” When the kid doesn’t heed that advice and winds up pregnant, you say to her, “Well, you did the adult deed; you’re now an adult. No more going out and partying with your friends. You stay home and be a mother.”

    The jerk who got her pregnant did what? He said, “Whoa! I can’t have a kid! I’m too cool for that!” and our culture accommodated him by letting him party with celebrities and providing him with lots of limelight, as long as he’d mock the Palins.

    Let us never forget the CAUSE that Kermit Gosnell was in business: brainless lust. Millions murdered for no other reason than shallow people wanted transitory pleasure and didn’t want to take responsibility for it. That’s like burning down a town and slaughtering the inhabitants so you can enjoy an ice cream sundae.

Thank you for bringing this topic up. The Lame Stream media has effectively ignored it for too long. Abortion, the word, is hardly ever used, but many euphemisms are. The use of euphemisms is to imply a ‘not so bad’ thing. The reality is that you kill a human being. Why cannot some people see that, or do they see that and just ignore it, a la “I CAN’T HEAR YOU”?

Mark Steyn, at The Corner…

““Neonates”? I wonder if that was Mr. Douthat’s word, or a compromise painfully negotiated with his alert editors at the Times. Ah, what a lovely neonate; she’s got your eyes.

So now we’ve advanced linguistically from euphemisms for abortion to evasions for infanticide. Progress! By the time the president weighs in and says that if he had a male neonate he’d look like the contents of Gosnell’s refrigerator, we’ll hardly notice it.”

That nails it.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | April 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I don’t know when it will happen, but someday I firmly believe that the history writers will decide that Roe v Wade was the worst Supreme Court decision ever, displacing Dred Scott. In Dred Scott, white supremist Democrats perverted the language of the day to dehumanize blacks because of their skin color. As a result, the Dred Scott decision denied citizenship to what, about 3 or 4 million people who Democrats had successfully demagogued as less than human because they were born black? Similarly, in the modern era pro-abortion Democrats have used perverted language to dehumanize pre-born children. As a consequence of the Roe decision, citizenship and life itself has been denied to about 50 million to 60 million pre-born children. And counting.

Photos like the ones embedded in this post were not available when Roe was decided. Nor was this video:

I think the advances in technology that permit us to see how life progresses in the womb and the ability to distribute those images widely will ultimately lead to an abortion backlash. You don’t have to be a far-right religious zealot to oppose abortion. You only need sight. And a soul.

    Roe v. Wade is what keeps the US government from COMPELLING abortion of disfavored children. If that decisions gets overturned, you will see government-coerced abortions in the United States within 20 years. If you think I’m wrong, cast your memory back to the nasty things written about Sarah Palin’s decision to carry her Down Syndrome child to term.

    Here’s the opinion.

    You really need to read the part about the consequences of a grant of power to our secular government. In brief, if the government is granted the power to make a decision, there is no way to ensure which way the decision will go. The effect of Roe v. Wade is to put a full block on the government’s ability to compel wholesale abortions. At the time the decision was handed down, there were people who loudly proclaimed that such a thing couldn’t happen here. That was before we became aware of China’s population policy.

    The day is fast approaching when the pro-life movement will wield Roe v. Wade against those who would coerce abortions on a grand scale.

      Ragspierre in reply to Valerie. | April 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      I don’t think that would happen for an instant.

      Roe merely took abortion out of the democratic process and Federalism.

      There was a broad swath of law across the states, and it would be that way again. In MOST states, there would not be a “right” to an abortion, but it would not be prohibited. Just subject to due process.

        Valerie in reply to Ragspierre. | April 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm

        States can’t intervene at all until the second trimester. That makes it just a bit tougher to coerce abortions.

      Rich Fader in reply to Valerie. | April 15, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      If the government wants to start compelling abortions, if we have a government that really wants to do that, they’ll do it, and Roe will stop it about as effectively as it stopped this.

The biological fact is that after the egg is fertilized by the sperm, what you have is a living being. In the case of a human, those people OUGHT to be protected by the same consitition whether in the womb or not. The “Pro-choice” people always use the “It’s my body, so I can do what I want with it.” arugment, but they fail to realize that the baby that is developing inside them is NOT part of their body (It has a different DNA signature), rather it is *DEPENDENT* upon their body. So, the question becomes, do we have a “Choice” to willfully kill our dependents? Last time I checked, that was defined as murder.

Were the Republicans smart or if they really wanted to move the law in a pro-life direction there would already be legislation, named after one of Gosnell’s victims, that would go after such villains – much like Obama has done with Newtown.

But they are not smart, and the leadership is leftwing, so nothing will happen.

Hell, Romney and the Republicans could have used Gosnell as a tool to handle the Akin flair-up but they choose not to.

I read the comments and I think, if the anti-abortion side can’t have a fit about this case and the media’s willful failure to cover it because some folks think it’s icky and weird of us to do so, when could we ever? This is about as bad as it gets. Or maybe it’s not, but I don’t particularly want to imagine worse than the Gosnell case, because then we start getting into the type of societies William Shirer and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote about. Seriously, please, sir, how bad does it have to get before we’re allowed to raise a genteel objection, let alone pitch a fit?

BannedbytheGuardian | April 15, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Once again – just when the tide is about to turn – Obama is saved by the bell.

Boston will obliterate this from the conversation .

I cannot believe his ‘luck’. Again & again & again.

If you go to the grand jury report which is online, you will see photos of two of the babies and a close up of the back of the neck incision. A picture does say a thousand words.

I hope this story isn’t buried. It seems everything that the dr could do wrong ethically and legally, he did. There are so many items to list, it would benefit anyone interested to read the g. Jury report.

[…] the current rhetoric about Kermit Gosnell, the man on trial in Philadelphia for killing newborns in his abortion clinic, I suspect Mike Bird […]