In 1984, former abortion doctor and NARAL founder Bernard
Nathanson narrated the film The Silent
Scream, which featured ultrasound footage of the abortion of an 11-week-old
fetus. It culminates with a shot of the unborn baby opening its mouth in the
“silent scream” that gave the film its name and much of its rhetorical punch.
This week we have reports of another tiny victim of
abortion screamingnot silently this time:
A Delaware woman who worked for abortion doctor
Kermit Gosnell recalled hearing one child “screaming” after it was delivered
during an abortion procedure at Gosnell’s West Philadelphia clinic.
Sherry West, of Bear, said she was loyal to
Gosnell who is now facing multiple counts of murder for allegedly killing
children after they were delivered alive at his clinic but said the incident
“really freaked me out.”
When Assistant District Attorney Joanne
Pescatore pressed the 53-year-old West for specifics about the incident, West
struggled to answer, clearly uncomfortable with the memory.
“I can’t describe it. It sounded like a little
alien,” West testified, telling a judge and Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
jury that the body of the child was about 18 to 24 inches long and was one of
the largest babies she had seen delivered during abortion procedures at
West said she saw the child, whose face and
features were not yet completely formed, lying on a glass tray on a shelf and
she told a co-worker to call Gosnell about it and fled the room.
Testimony has been given by Gosnell’s former colleagues,
who describe the doctor snipping the spinal cords of babies born alive
and keeping the severed feet of aborted fetuses
in specimen jars. This is in addition to the filthy condition in which the facility
was keptblood on the floors, bags of feces and other wastewithout any
interference from state health inspectors or regulators. In fact, it wasn’t
until Gosnell was suspected of illegal drug sales
that the disgusting realities of his medical practice became known to law
How do we react to this story?
The normal, healthy reaction is horror. I know seasoned,
not-easily-shocked pro-lifers who have lost sleep and been unable to eat after
reading the accounts of the kind of “medical care” Dr. Gosnell and his
employees dispensed for years at 38th Street and
Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia. It is possible for those who are
pro-life and who fight to end abortion to become desensitized to the reality of
the human lives that are snuffed out by abortion. The horrors perpetrated by
Gosnell and overlooked by negligent health inspectors throws this reality into
Another reaction to this story is to ignore it and hope it
will go away. This seems to be the reaction of many in the national media. Kirsten Powers has a column in USA Today on the shameful media silence regarding
the Gosnell trial:
A Lexis-Nexis search shows none of the
news shows on the three major national television networks has mentioned the
Gosnell trial in the last three months. The exception is when Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan hijacked a segment on Meet the Press meant to foment outrage over an
anti-abortion rights law in some backward red state.
not published original reporting on this during the trial and The New York
Times saw fit to run one
original story on A-17 on the trial's first day. They've been silent ever
since, despite headline-worthy testimony.
Let me state the obvious. This should
be front page news. When Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke, there was
non-stop media hysteria. The venerable NBC
Nightly News' Brian Williams intoned, "A firestorm of outrage from women after a crude tirade from Rush
Limbaugh," as he teased a segment on the brouhaha. Yet, accusations of
babies having their heads severed a major human rights story if there ever
was one doesn't make the cut.
Why the almost-total media blackout? Mollie Hemingway at Get
Religion suggests this is a problem of how the media
frames abortion stories; that Gosnell doesn’t fit the narrative employed by most
media outlets when they cover abortion in this country: “Perhaps it’s
worth reflecting on whether reporters and editors should question their
preferred frames if those frames require hiding reality.” Elizabeth Scalia is even blunter: “There is a saying in the news industry: ‘if it bleeds, it leads…’ … Perhaps the saying should be
changed to, ‘if it bleeds and is politically expedient it leads, otherwise, it gets buried.’”
At NRO’s The Corner, Peter Kirsanow responds to the suggestion
that the media’s indifference to the Gosnell trial may have something to do
with the fact that most of his patients were women of color. In addition to being
charged with the murder of seven babies, Gosnell is also being tried for the
murder of Karnamaya Mongar, a 41-year-old Bhutanese refugee who didn’t speak
English and who was given lethal doses of several medications after an abortion
in Gosnell’s clinic. Would the media care more if his victimsborn and unbornwere white?
The elite media are
rarely at a loss for highlighting racial disparities, whether real or
imagined, in any story. But it’s hard to highlight racial
disparities when you refuse to cover the story at all.
Also missing are the
usual suspects who would rail against the responsible oversight
authorities for their indifference to the plight of minorities. These
usual suspects would normally ask in this case perhaps justifiably
whether what allegedly happened in Gosnell’s clinic would be allowed to
happen in a clinic largely patronized by whites. But again, as with the elite
media, utter silence.
A hierarchy of priorities is thus revealed.
Interestingly, Gosnell himself seems to have thought he was safer mistreating
women of color than he would be if they were white; a former medical assistant offered
this testimony about Gosnell:
[Gosnell] didn’t mind you medicating your African American girls, your Indian
girl, but if you had a white girl from the suburbs, oh, you better not medicate
her. You better wait until he go in and talk to her first. And one day I said
something to him and he was like, that’s the way of the world.