NETS COVERED CECIL THE LION MORE IN ONE DAY THAN PLANNED PARENTHOOD VIDEOS IN TWO WEEKS: Why, it’s as if Cecil was a useful distraction for the media to temporarily sandbag a developing story they want absolutely nothing to do with. In other words, Gosnell redux. As Jim Treacher noted last year, “Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn’t know because they might reflect badly on Democrats.”
HOUSE PASSES 20-WEEK ABORTION BILL: The vote was 242-184, and along party lines (4 Democrats supported the bill; 4 Republicans opposed it). The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks.
I am with my fellow constitutional law professors, Glenn (Mr. InstaP himself) and Jonathan Adler on this one: I don’t see a principled constitutional basis for Congress to regulate abortions. It is a matter of state power–for state-by-state legislative consideration–and not within Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce.
For a Republican Congress to embrace such an expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause is more than a bit ironic (and unprincipled), especially given Republicans’ more parsimonious view of the Clause during the Obamacare litigation. Why jettison this basic understanding of constitutional structure/federalism merely to score a cheap political victory?
The goal of restricting abortions to 20 weeks’ gestation–which I support and is backed by increasing science on viability–can be accomplished within state legislatures. There are some interesting and complicated legal questions about the constitutionality of a 20-week cutoff versus a 22-week cutoff due to the current science on viability, but there is little doubt that states have the constitutional wiggle room to ban abortions sometime around 22 weeks (the point of fetal viability).
But for Congress to impose a top-down, “one size fits all” cutoff for abortion flies in the face of conservative thought that Roe v. Wade itself was an inappropriate federalization of abortion that pretermitted democratic debate and state variation on such a contentious moral issue.
Note to Republicans in Congress: The ends do not justify the means–rationale is out of the progressives’ playbook.
KIRSTEN POWERS: Liberals’ Mob Rule: Kickstarter’s attempt to censor film about convicted abortion doctor is another example. They’re always trying to shut up someone.
As Powers notes, the bill Davis blocked “would have made it illegal for mothers to abort babies past 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in the case of severe fetal abnormalities or to protect the life or health of the mother.” That “health of the mother” is a huge loophole, but probably necessary for the bill to withstand judicial scrutiny under the Casey regime. But to Gillespie’s point, a partial ban on abortion after 20 weeks–more than halfway through the second trimester–is precisely the sort of moderate restriction that Gillespie claims to approve of most Americans’ supporting (even if he himself does not).
The bill would also establish “regulations on abortion clinics similar to what was passed in Pennsylvania in 2011 after the Gosnell horror,” Powers writes. That is, they would be regulated as ambulatory (outpatient) surgical centers. Over at Slate, feminist caricature Amanda Marcotte, describes such regulations as “an attempt by the religious right to impose their faith-based views on the rest of us.”
So tell us, Amanda, does the injunction to regulate ambulatory surgical centers appear in the Old Testament or the New?
I’m pro-choice, but it’s ridiculous to hear people talking about restrictions on 24-week abortions as “Republicans coming to take control of your vagina.”
UPDATE: Reader Robert Crawford writes: “Wendy Davis is the new Cindy Sheehan.”
NICK GILLESPIE: Our Stupid Abortion Debate.
THE PERILS OF GRANDSTANDING: Judge: Obama sex assault comments ‘unlawful command influence.’ So what about his comments on the Zimmerman trial? . . .
UPDATE: Yes, yes, I know that there’s no such thing as unlawful command influence in the civilian legal system. I’m just noting his tendency to politicize criminal cases.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:
Isn’t it interesting that here, in a case in which he is in the chain of command, he spoke out forcefully and, evidently, too pointedly. Contrast that with the Gosnell case, in which he had no part in the executive hierarchy but dodged answering questions with the invented excuse, “I can’t comment on it because it’s an active trial.”
I’m a Fed, so please don’t use my name.
Yes, consistency is not his strong suit. But, to be fair, no one has ever really demanded it of him.
ASSOCIATED PRESS ON GOSNELL: Philly abortion murder trial has national impact.
MEDIA BLACKOUT: Gosnell Who?
KIRSTEN POWERS: Gosnell’s abortion atrocities no ‘aberration.’
GOSNELL FALLOUT? Obama backs out of Planned Parenthood keynote address. Instead, he’s suddenly planning to visit the scene of the Texas fertilizer plant explosion.
SEEMS LIKE POOR TIMING, WITH THE GOSNELL REVELATIONS AND EVERYTHING: Obama’s keynote speech to Planned Parenthood puts abortion back in spotlight.
ED MORRISSEY: The Real Lesson Of The Gosnell Trial.
ROSS DOUTHAT: Kermit Gosnell and the Politics of Abortion.
UGH: Gosnell Trial Witness: Baby Abortion Survivor Was ‘Swimming’ in Toilet ‘Trying to Get Out.’ Don’t look at the picture if grisly stuff bothers you.
GOSNELL UPDATE: The Atlantic: It’s Surprisingly Hard to Report a Shady Abortion Provider Like Kermit Gosnell. “Is this seriously the best system they’re capable of devising?” Nope. Though before you know if it’s the “best,” you have to know what their definition of best would be.
PER WEHNER: Obama’s Lear-like Rage. “Mr. Obama’s effort at emotional blackmail has failed, and in bitterly lashing out at those who called him out on his demagoguery, he went some distance toward confirming that he is, in fact, a demagogue. Three months into his second term, Mr. Obama is becoming an increasingly bitter and powerless figure. When a man who views himself as a world-historic figure and our Moral Superior commands things to happen and they don’t, it isn’t a pretty sight. See yesterday’s Rose Garden statement for more.”
Meanwhile, a reader emails: “I wonder how all those wringing their hands over the failure of the gun bills would feel…if the nation’s abortion policies were based on the Kermit Gosnell atrocities?”
Yes, the emotional-blackmail thing only goes one way, apparently. But it’s interesting that it was such a colossal failure this time. Putting forward people to promote your cause, and then maintaining that no one is allowed to argue with or criticize them because of their victim status must have looked like a sure winner to the White House, but they overplayed their hand and it backfired.
UPDATE: More backfire. This emotional bullying stuff just doesn’t seem to intimidate people on the right anymore. I guess when you’ve been called a racist every time you disagreed with Obama’s healthcare policy, such things lose their power.
And reader Drew Kelley emails: “Remember how we joked about Obama’s first, and second, terms being – in a best case scenario – another term of Carter? Today, it seems that this term is turning into a reprise of Nixon, but with a President even more bitter.”
WASHINGTON POST: Kermit Gosnell trial: It’s about more than politics.
MY USA TODAY COLUMN IS ON THE GOSNELL CASE: Breaking Media Silence: Media bias exists not only in how they cover stories, but in their choice of stories to cover. And not to cover.
UPDATE: Interestingly, despite all the Boston coverage, the two most popular op-eds at USA Today are on Gosnell — Kirsten Powers’ from last week is still #1, and mine is #2.
JAMES TARANTO: From Roe to Gosnell: “Here is incontrovertible proof that Kirsten Powers and Conor Friedersdorf are correct in arguing that the murder trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell has received insufficient media coverage: On Friday, Snopes.com was compelled to publish a page confirming that the story is real, not merely an urban legend.”
MY USA TODAY COLUMN FOR TOMORROW IS ON THE GOSNELL CASE: Breaking Media Silence: Media bias exists not only in how they cover stories, but in their choice of stories to cover. And not to cover.
ANN ALTHOUSE: What abortion?
The media perceive the Gosnell story as a threat to abortion rights.
By the way, why are we calling what he did “abortion”? Just as a matter of clarity in the language. The grand jury report says that his method of ridding women of their unwanted late-term pregnancies was to induce labor and deliver the child. That’s not abortion. That’s childbirth. We’re not even in the gray area where a strange term like “partial-birth abortion” could be used. It was complete birth, followed by murder. Why don’t abortion rights proponents come down hard on that distinction? He wasn’t an abortionist (in most of these instances), but an obstetrician-murderer. If abortion rights proponents don’t want to talk about that, I’d like to hear exactly why they have a problem.
Good luck with that.
GOSNELL-LIKE QUESTIONS IN DELAWARE?
GOSNELL: It’s Come To This At CNN.
KERMIT GOSNELL: The Alleged Mass-Murderer and the Bored Media. “Let’s just state the obvious: National political reporters are, by and large, socially liberal. We are more likely to know a gay couple than to know someone who owns an ‘assault weapon.’ We are, generally, pro-choice. Twice, in D.C., I’ve caused a friend to literally leave a conversation and freeze me out for a day or so because I suggested that the Stupak Amendment and the Hyde Amendment made sense. There is a bubble. Horror stories of abortionists are less likely to permeate that bubble than, say, a story about a right-wing pundit attacking an abortionist who then claims to have gotten death threats.”
ROSS DOUTHAT ON THE GUNS VS. GOSNELL COVERAGE CONTRAST, AND MEDIA BIAS. “As the last example suggests, the problem here isn’t that American journalists are too quick to go on crusades. Rather, it’s that the press’s ideological blinders limit the kinds of crusades mainstream outlets are willing to entertain, and the formal commitment to neutrality encourages self-deception about what counts as crusading.”
UPDATE: Prof. Stephen Clark writes:
When I read op/ed’s like those of Douthat, I can’t help but think that modern journalism is the very antithesis of Mother Jones’ dictum that they so like to imagine themselves fulfilling: To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Rather, they seem to aspire to that which Finley Peter Dunne, through his character Dooley, warned against – a passage from which Jones and many others have uncritically borrowed: “Th newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, controls th’ ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim aftherward”.
Modern journalists are very far from being the rabble rousers and muckrakers they imagine themselves to be. They are merely courtiers to the political and cultural powers incumbent in society.
It’s not surprising that when journalism started recruiting from the apparatchik class, it became part of the apparat. Or maybe it’s the other way around. . . .
POLITICS: Kermit Gosnell and Adam Lanza:
Jezebel points out the obvious, writing that “Gosnell doesn’t represent or stand for abortion care in any way. Abortion, done right, is a safe medical procedure.” But this idea of a high-profile case drawing an emotional response, and the attempt to use that emotional response to drive a policy debate, ought to be familiar. Jezebel’s statement, after all, could just as easily have read: “But Adam Lanza doesn’t represent or stand for gun ownership in any way. Gun ownership, done right, is a safe practice.” Jezebel notes that “fewer than 0.3% of abortion patients ever experience a complication that requires hospitalization,” according to a pro-abortion rights group. But even according to anti-gun statistics, there were only 33,000 gun-related deaths in 2011 for 300,000,000 guns owned in the country (fewer than .00012 percent). The violent crime rate in the U.S., in fact, is approaching a historical low.
The case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, horrific on its own, is not helpful as a stand-in or argument in the wider debate about abortion and reproductive rights (because what he did is already illegal), just as the case of Adam Lanza, horrific on its own, is not helpful as a stand-in or argument in the wider debate about personal safety and gun rights (because what he did is already illegal).
Hmm. Is that the right analogy?
MEGAN MCARDLE: Why I Didn’t Write About Gosnell’s Trial–And Why I Should Have. “Gosnell is accused of grisly crimes that I didn’t want to think about. . . . I understand why my readers suspect me, and other pro-choice mainstream journalists, of being selective—of not wanting to cover the story because it showcased the ugliest possibilities of abortion rights. The truth is that most of us tend to be less interested in sick-making stories—if the sick-making was done by ‘our side.’”
ROGER SIMON: GosnellGate: It’s the A-Word.
UPDATE: Salon.com shouts “Look, Squirrel!” to deflect #Gosnell outrage. Well, that’s their function. It’s why they’ve been subsidized by rich lefties all the way back to the Lewinsky scandals.
And reader Reid Freeman writes: “The legacy media won’t cover the Kermit Gosnell case because they understand it could be utilized by anti-abortion activists in the way anti-Second Amendment activists utilized the Sandy Hook murders.”
ED DRISCOLL: Old Media Slowly Awakens To Gosnell Horrors. “The key word is slowly; if you haven’t seen it yet, click over to to Hot Air for the photo of row after empty row of seats in the media section of the trial of Kermit Gosnell. But Terry Moran of ABC’s Nightline slowly awakens to the horrific Gosnell story ‘Kermit Gosnell is probably the most successful serial killer in the history of the world.’ As Jim Treacher responds, ‘Don’t tell us. Tell your viewers.’”
Related: The Atlantic: Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story: The dead babies. The exploited women. The racism. The numerous governmental failures. It is thoroughly newsworthy. “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.”
A TIP LINE FOR JOURNALISTS: Did Your Editor Spike Kermit Gosnell Coverage? Report It Here Anonymously.
KIRSTEN POWERS ON TODAY’S POLITICIZED JOURNALISM: Philadelphia abortion clinic horror: We’ve forgotten what belongs on Page One. “Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A child screaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure. Haven’t heard about these sickening accusations? It’s not your fault. Since the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell began March 18, there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on every news show and front page. The revolting revelations of Gosnell’s former staff, who have been testifying to what they witnessed and did during late-term abortions, should shock anyone with a heart. . . . ‘Chaos’ isn’t really the story here. Butchering babies that were already born and were older than the state’s 24-week limit for abortions is the story.”
Doesn’t fit the narrative. I’m pro-choice, but that doesn’t excuse this sort of thing.
None of this stuff is protected by Roe v. Wade. Just by the journalistic establishment.
THE WORST ECONOMICS WRITER: And no, it’s not Paul Krugman:
Crutsinger’s desire to tell a success story about President Obama’s economic policies is evident in sentences such as this one from March 8: “The American job market isn’t just growing. It’s accelerating.” But the hiring numbers in what he called a “four-month hiring spree” were: 247,000, 229,000, 119,000, and 236,000, respectively. So during that four-month period, there was no acceleration — hiring was fairly steady, with one month weaker than the others. Of course, Crutsinger argues, the numbers would have been better if the government were hiring more people.
The final product is an AP-distributed political worldview that government spending is always good for the economy, good for employment, good for construction, etc., with little or no contemplation of the possibility that government spending may be one of our more significant economic problems. That government spending may be out of control is a possibility that has occurred to many Americans, but not to the economics desk of the Associated Press.
According to the grand jury report [PDF] released this week by Philadelphia prosecutors, Pennsylvania health officials deliberately chose not to enforce laws to ensure that abortion clinics provide the same level of care as other medical service providers. . . .
The grand jury report said that one look at the place would have detected the problems, but the Pennsylvania Department of Health hadn’t inspected the place since 1993. Here’s the grand jury report, in surprisingly strong language:
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 Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be “putting a barrier up to women” seeking abortions.
“Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety,” the report states. “Without regular inspections, providers like Gosnell continue to operate; unlawful and dangerous third-trimester abortions go undetected; and many women, especially poor women, suffer.”
I’m surprised to see the lefty outfit ProPublica pick up on this.