The new 'abortion': cutting newborns' spinal cords

Two years ago, Dr. Kermit Gosnell was arrested for the murders of eight people at the abortion clinic a jury called a "house of horrors." As I wrote at that time, normally if anyone in the country is accused of murdering eight people (and, in fact, a reading of the grand jury report indicates he is suspected in the murders of untold more, and I do mean untold), that would be big news. This has not been big news. It's been covered, but not in the way the 24-hour news cycle covers, say, a missing blonde woman.

It's been different than, say, the frenzied and unrelenting negative coverage of one anti-abortion candidate's unscientific and widely derided remarks about rape.

Gosnell ran an abortion clinic in Philadelphia, performing some 16,000 procedures. Karnamaya Mongar, an immigrant from Nepal, died at his hands. That's one of the murder charges. The rest are for some of the babies he delivered before cutting their spinal cord. The grand jury report is sickening. It tells of a shop of horrors -- infant body parts stashed everywhere in the clinic (including the employee lunch refrigerator), unsterilized instruments, flea-ridden cats defecating throughout the facility. Again, a grand jury report this horrific would normally be bigger news.

In the Grand Jury report, you can read more about how he violated abortion regulations by performing abortions on minors without parental consent, how he performed abortions past 24 weeks, sometimes very far past 24 weeks, fudged required ultrasounds, skipped required consultations. You can read about the other women who died or were severely injured after abortions performed by Gosnell. You can read about how pro-choice politicians ended some regulations of abortion clinics or about how one doctor complained about the spread of VD from the clinic. All this is just in the first 18 pages of the 281-page report.

At the time of this report and his arrest, the same broadcast outlets that reported on Todd Akin's "rape" remarks night after night after night after night after night after night somehow managed not to mention Gosnell once.

There were other media outlet problems, too, which you can revisit here.

Gosnell's trial has finally begun and the Associated Press report on it is extremely difficult to read. Here's how it begins:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A medical assistant told a jury Tuesday that she snipped the spines of at least 10 babies during unorthodox abortions at a West Philadelphia clinic, at the direction of the clinic's owner.

And she said Dr. Kermit Gosnell and another employee did the same to terminate pregnancies.

Adrienne Moton's testimony came in the capital murder trial of Gosnell, who owned the clinic and is on trial in the deaths of a patient and seven babies. Prosecutors accuse him of killing late-term, viable babies after they were delivered alive, in violation of state abortion laws.

OK, while it is perhaps worth reflecting on precisely how much difference there is between the abortion of viable children and the killing of children of the exact same gestation who have escaped the womb, Gosnell is not charged with murdering via abortion but, rather, murdering via live birth of babies whose spinal cords he then snipped.

The story discusses how some of these children were delivered at 30 weeks and that one baby was so big that Gosnell joked "he could have walked to the bus stop," according to the witness.


[Moton] once had to kill a baby delivered in a toilet, cutting its neck with scissors, she said. Asked if she knew that was wrong, she said, "At first I didn't."

Abortions are typically performed in utero.

Again, while "intact dilation and extraction" abortions or "partial-birth" abortions are done ex utero (the baby is delivered except for the head and then the skull is collapsed by sucking out the brains), is this a case of that form of, um, "pregnancy termination"? Killing a baby in a toilet may be many things, but an abortion it is not. The language here should not suggest it is.

A previous story anticipating how the defense would work -- saying the prosecution is racist, essentially -- avoided some of these problems. It is, perhaps, even more difficult to read.

The story is not long and we'll have to see how the same media outlets that showed intense interest in pro-life comments on rape will cover an actual murder trial of an abortion doctor.

It would stand to reason that there are many more questions to ask, including of prominent politicians, pundits and media figures that seek to end regulations on abortion clinics as well as any limitation on any abortion. There are questions to ask regarding the difference between these, as the AP writer puts it, "abortions" being performed in or ex utero. Surely the same media that ran with Todd Akin's rape remarks for weeks on end will find suitable angles to begin their broadcast newscasts and lead their front pages -- maybe even for a week or so. Right?

Newborn photo via Shutterstock.

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