To his credit, Howard Kurtz came out today and agreed that the “horrifying crimes that a Pennsylvania abortion doctor is accused of committing haven’t gotten enough national media coverage.” Here’s the clip, the first 90 seconds of which are about Gosnell.
But just a couple sentences after agreeing the media hasn’t given the story enough attention, Kurtz accidentally revealed why. He says “Kermit Gosnell is on trial for allegedly running a house of horrors, storing all kinds of mutilated fetuses, some of which were brutally killed.” [Emphasis added.]
Fetuses? Gosnell is not on trial for murdering fetuses, he’s on trial for murdering babies (and one adult woman). Here are the first two lines of the grand jury report “This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.”
One one hand I’m sure this was just a slip of the tongue, but I think it’s fair to say in this case–the Kermit Gosnell case–the line between fetus and baby is decidedly not a minor rhetorical point. Gosnell’s crime was specifically about fudging the line between fetus and viable infant. From the grand jury report:
The law requires a measurement of gestational age, usually done by an ultrasound. The ultrasound film would leave documentary proof that the abortion was illegal. Gosnell’s solution was simply to fudge the measurement process. Instead of hiring proper ultrasound technicians, he “trained” the staff himself, showing them how to aim the ultrasound probe at an angle to make the fetus look smaller. If one of his workers nonetheless recorded an ultrasound measurement that was too big, it would just be redone.
And because these viable fetuses were large his procedure was to force labor causing women to give birth to live infants. However this led to a problem. Again, from the grand jury report:
There remained, however, a final difficulty. When you perform late-term “abortions” by inducing labor, you get babies. Live, breathing, squirming babies. By 24 weeks, most babies born prematurely will survive if they receive appropriate medical care. But that was not what the Women’s Medical Society was about.
Gosnell is a monster specifically because he conspired to murder “breathing, squirming babies” after birth as if they were non-viable fetuses in the womb. Howard Kurtz slip of the tongue is not the issue, it’s just one telling example that reveals why this case has received a fraction of the attention it deserves. If you really think of the victims as babies, it’s hard not to be shocked and outraged by this case. If you don’t, well…if you don’t you get the kind of coverage we have now.