Dr. Kermit Gosnell is a Philadelphia abortionist currently on trial for medical procedures gone wrong. More specifically, he is being tried for murdering one woman and seven infants in botched, late-term and post-birth abortion procedures.
But much of the mainstream media has been deafeningly silent about it. This criminal trial warrants a lot more coverage. Here is why.
Gosnell’s trial began March 18, 2013, following fbi raids at his clinic in February 2010 and his arrest in January 2011. For 30 years, he had been using rogue, unsanitary abortion practices, to say the least.
In a Jan. 28, 2011, article titled “Philadelphia’s ‘House of Horrors’,” Trumpet columnist Stephen Flurry wrote about the grisly details of Kermit Gosnell’s case and the media’s reaction to it. He wrote:
[The media has] gone shamefully silent about the political climate that motivated Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s murderous rampage against women and babies over the course of his 30-year career.
In February of , federal agents raided Gosnell’s West Philadelphia abortion clinic on the suspicion he was distributing prescription drugs illegally. But what started as a routine drug bust ended with a nauseating tour through a “house of horrors.” It was a disgusting scene one might expect to find in a Third World country—but certainly not in Pennsylvania.
The facility was filthy. Flea-infested cats roamed the hallways. There was blood on the floor, animal excrement on stairwells. The stench of urine permeated the air. Medical instruments were left unsterile. Moaning, drugged-up patients were covered with blood-soaked blankets. And the remains of 45 fetuses were strewn all over the facility, stuffed in bags, jars, plastic jugs, juice cartons—even cat-food containers.
It’s hard to describe it further. The clinic “was a house of horrors beyond any type of definition or explanation I can humbly try to give,” Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams told cnn. “My grasp of the English language doesn’t really allow me to fully describe how horrific this clinic was—rotting bodies, fetal remains, the smell of urine throughout, blood-stained.”
In spite of these gory details, the media has not said much about it, at least comparatively speaking. Writing for Forbes.com, Mike Ozanian said that “it is disturbing that Mike Rice gets more coverage than Kermit Gosnell .…” Even the murder trial of Jodi Arias is getting more attention.
The reason for the scant media coverage of this case seems to be the same reason why authorities did little to prevent the horrors in Gosnell’s clinic, despite multiple condemning health inspections.
District Attorney Williams and the Investigating Grand Jury produced a non-partisan, 261-page report on this case. They believe “the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, [and] because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion.”
On the race side of things, some observers have noted the race card at play as an explanation for the media’s relative silence. After all, Gosnell’s attorney described the trial as “a targeted, elitist and racist prosecution of a doctor who’s done nothing but give to the poor and the people of West Philadelphia.” Gosnell is black, and he mostly treated poor, minority and immigrant women.
As for the politics, the jury report noted that in 1993, “the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from [pro-life] Governor Casey to [pro-choice] Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay.”
Ironically, in an article titled “The Questions No One Is Asking About the Kermit Gosnell Case,” pro-choicers Kate Michelman and Carol E. Tracy refer to Pennsylvania’s strictness—not laxity—on abortion procedures as the reason why clinics like Kermit Gosnell’s existed.
But their arguments reveal possible reasons for the media’s minimum reportage. They argued that throughout the ’70s and ’80s, “Pennsylvania’s primary goal was to overturn Roe v. Wade.” The state, they wrote, has not “nurtured a system of abortion care that is woman-focused, readily accessible, and responsive to their medical needs.” They noted that abortion is so stigmatized that “many people think it is still illegal 40 years after Roe v. Wade.” Some women wanting abortions have been “scared away” by anti-abortion protesters at Planned Parenthood clinics. They were left with no option but to go to Kermit Gosnell’s clinic, “where protesters (ironically) were not an issue.” The article concludes:
History tells us that whether abortion is legal or illegal, women will have abortions—the only difference is whether women live or die. As in the pre-Roe days, women with resources can usually find quality care; but those without resources will often seek out the cheapest possible care. The long-term impact of burdening and stigmatizing abortion care could be that the most vulnerable women will once again have to risk their health and lives to get what should be a completely safe and common medical procedure.
This would appear to be the other reason for the hush-hush around the Gosnell case: the argument that since anti-abortionists have forced women to risk their lives in dubious abortion procedures by obscure, rogue doctors, those doctors should be cut some slack. Besides, wouldn’t reporting much about it seem too anti-abortion? Wouldn’t it tend to raise the case against abortion?
There is tremendous value and potential in human life—before or after birth. “Any means by which people cut off that human life,” wrote Trumpet columnist Joel Hilliker in 2000, “demonstrates a pitiable ignorance—a lack of true education—about the purpose for human life and the incredible potential bound up within it.”
The same is true about how the media reports about it.