Thursday, April 18, 2013

Abortion doctor blame game

I remember well when the grisly story of the Philadelphia abortion clinic of Dr. Kermit Gosnell broke in 2011. My main source for news, NPR, didn't sugarcoat the story of the doctor who performed late-stage abortions, killing the babies who were born alive. His clientele was largely poor blacks and immigrant women. His facilities were horribly unhygienic. Unsurprisingly, no one rose to his defense.

Fast-forward to now (April 2013). A cause celebre among the conservative media is that the MSM is covering up this story. Um, how?

Well, don't you know that his trial is going on right now and the MSM isn't covering it? No, I didn't know that. I know that the Jody Arias trial is going on. She used to be a stunning blonde, but now she has dark straight hair, glasses, a mousy look, a terrible memory, and multiple versions of how her lover ended up dead. That's what I know about.

I suppose this shows that the MSM could transfer a fair amount of resources to covering other more important issues, such as Dr. Gosnell's trial, but that doesn't make it a cover-up.

The accusation of cover-up started with one reporter: Kirsten Powers of Fox News writing in USA Today on April 11. Then the chorus from like-minded conservative media outlets snowballed. What they don't mention is that the conservative media was hardly reporting on the trial either. HotAir started its trial coverage on April 9, not when the trial started in March. Breitbart's coverage is somewhat better, with spotty coverage in March, but the real explosion beginning on April 12.

It looks to me like no media outlets were covering the trial very well until Kirsten Powers cided the MSM, and just the MSM. No bias there.

She definitely had a good point. The trial deserves a lot of coverage, and it's now guaranteed to get it.

With the increased coverage comes an orgy of recriminations about who is responsible. Those being blamed include:
  • Dr. Gosnell
  • The staff at the clinic
  • The radical pro-abortionists
  • The Democratic elite
  • The Pennsylvania Health Department
  • The pro-abortion establishment leaning on the PA Health Department not to do inspections
  • The PA governors who were afraid of the pro-abortion establishment, or maybe swing voter backlash
  • The pro-life activists who demonstrated outside Gosnell's clinic but completely ineffective in finding out the women's stories or in shutting the clinic down
  • The media for not covering stories that hurt the pro-abortion side
  • The Hyde amendment for not providing free, early abortions for poor women
Yeah, right. It looks like some people have a few axes to grind, and the occasion of this trial is a good time to do it. I'll ignore the point scoring, but share a few interesting details.

The report from the grand jury that indicted Gosnell is very readable and fascinating. A few observations:
  • Gosnell's staff contained mostly poor, under-educated local women, but there were also a few opportunists who should have known better. Among the staff was a 15-year-old high school girl. Within a few months, she was in charge of drug administration on many shifts.
  • Gosnell worked one day a week at another abortion clinic. Also, one of his staffers was recommended by a Louisiana clinic owner. This makes me suspect there are other clinics out there that are in the same class as Gosnell's clinic.
  • However, not all clinics are like this. Another former worker, who had reported Gosnell's clinic to health authorities, said she had worked at seven different abortion clinics and "she has never experienced an illegally run, unsanitary, and unethical facility such as the Women’s Medical Society operated by Dr. Gosnell" (p. 52). 
That is the only good news from this sordid story.


Postscript. This isn't anywhere near full coverage of the complex topic of abortion. If there's a lot of interest, I'll set up some open threads.


Dangerous said...

I live in the Philly area, MP, and I can tell you that there is plenty of coverage locally, because it is a local story of what seems like a truly heinous person. There is daily reporting on the local TV news (when I watch it which is rarely) but KYW News Radio, the most listened station in the area and all-news, has coverage of testimony without editorial adornment.

The fact is Gossnell is a scummy and crooked doctor. If he had been a dentist instead of an abortion doctor he'd be the same. He will be subject to due process and justice will be served. A good point has been made the making abortion illegal or difficult to get will spawn more Gossnells, not less. The Right's end-zone dance seems strange to me.

If other MSM don't cover the story it will be because their audiences won't care and will change the channel instead of facing the grisly reality of the testimony. He's primarily being prosecuted for criminal negligence for being a bad doctor and killing patients, not for doing abortions.

ModeratePoli said...

@Dangerous in (to) PA,

I agree that Gosnell is very scummy. I worry that late-term abortion may be a magnet for scummy doctors. It's hard to judge on the basis of one case, but there's a Dr. Carhart who did an abortion of a 33-week fetus and the mother died this February. I'm guessing that there is a lot more to the story. It's likely the abortion was performed due to a severe defect.

In reading about late-term abortions, I can see it's a fraught operation, and probably should be performed only in a hospital, not a clinic. Of course, that means that hospitals need to be willing to be the site of such operations. I don't know how many hospital administrators are brave enough considering how much abortion is targeted, even abortion performed for very good reason.