The PJ Tatler

Pro-Life Supporters to Blame for Gosnell, Says Salon Writer

Irin Carmon also blames pro-lifers for politicizing abortion. I suppose that’s true if you look at how the pro-life lobby has worked at the state level to make abortion harder to obtain.

But Carmon and other liberals this morning have gone far beyond politicizing abortion. They are politicizing infanticide:

Here are some important things to know about the tragedies committed in Gosnell’s clinic, based on the sources you missed. This week, as Virginia-based pro-choice activist Michelle Kinsey Bruns noted on Twitter, “Fitting that the right is trying to whip folks into a frenzy over #Gosnell the same day VA is trying to put safe abortion care out of reach.” She’s referring to so-called TRAP laws, which are regulations aimed at abortion clinics that have nothing to do with safety — say, the size of parking lots — to seek to drive them out of business, and which are expected to go forward in a vote today. According to Tara Murtha, a Philadelphia-based reporter who has been covering the Gosnell case from the start, in the aftermath of Pennsylvania’s own TRAP laws, the state went from 22 free-standing clinics to 13. As Murtha puts it, “The bottom line is that politicizing abortion led to Gosnell. Their answer? Politicize it more.”

“Politicizing abortion led to Gosnell”? Is she serious? Why is it the de facto response by many liberals to absolve individuals who commit  heinous crimes of personal responsibility? It’s not Gosnell’s fault! It’s those damn pro-lifers that “led”(?) to Gosnell.  This counterfactual view of Gosnell — if only abortion were free this wouldn’t have happened — is a favorite construct on the left because it demands absolutely no proof whatsoever.

After all, the question is not just why the state failed to respond to the complaints of women and advocates who visited the clinic, although that matters hugely. It’s why women kept going there anyway: because they felt they had no alternative. Read this account from Jeff Deeney, a social worker from Philadelphia, who points out that the lack of public funding for abortion is a big factor leading desperate women to Gosnell: “It’s worth noting for outsiders that Health Center #4 which serves the same neighborhood is the best in town, providing quality care for the uninsured poor. But Health Centers don’t do abortions, and Medicaid, where a TANF mom’s insurance coverage would come from, if she had any at all, doesn’t pay for them. And for these women the cost of paying for an abortion out of pocket breaks the budget, leaving mom scrambling to make next month’s rent or possibly wind up on the street.” Cost is also how women often get past the legal gestational limit, as they struggle to save up enough money — and Gosnell’s willingness to break the law was what made him their last chance. To everyone who thinks his case was a reason for more abortion restrictions: What he did was already illegal.

There is one small issue that Ms. Carmon fails to bring up. These women are “desperate.” The felt they had “no alternative.” But babies do not come from storks or grow on trees. Presumably, these “desperate” women know a little bit about the facts of life and how babies are conceived. It can also be presumed that these women with “no alternative” know how to prevent babies from being conceived and know something of birth control — or are aware of what a condom is for.

Needless to say, women who are raped or are impregnated due to incest are indeed, victims, and the overwhelming majority of Americans believe that abortion should be available to them in order to terminate the pregnancy. (Only 10% believe in “no exceptions” abortion.) The issue of public monies being used to provide abortions in these cases can and should be debated. But lumping the victims in with women who make bad choices (and the men who facilitate and assist in those choices) is blowing smoke to obscure the fundamental issue of personal responsibility.

Evidently, Carmon believes that since these women are poor and desperate and have no alternatives that they should be excused from any semblance of personal responsibility for their own sex lives, and from taking any measures that would prevent pregnancy. Carmon apparently believes that poor women are inferior to better-off women who can  pay for their own abortions or who take precautions when having sex — a shockingly racist view considering that in the Gosnell case, we are talking about mostly black and Hispanic women.

Carmon dismisses the notion that the Gosnell story isn’t being covered:

No, they aren’t right about the Gosnell story. If you’ve never heard of the Gosnell story, it’s not because of a coverup by the liberal mainstream media. It’s probably because you failed to pay attention to the copiouscoverage among pro-choice and feministjournalists, as well as the big news organizations, when the news first broke in 2011. There would be something rich, if it weren’t so infuriating, about these (almost uniformly male, as it happens) reporters and commentators scrambling to break open this shocking untold story. You know, the one that was written about here, here and here, to name some disparate sources.

I can’t speak for big news organizations like CNN and the networks, but let’s think about this question another way:

Alert: Change of subject coming:

How often do such places devote their energies to covering the massive health disparities and poor outcomes that are wrought by our current system? How often are the travails of the women whose vulnerabilities Gosnell exploited — the poor, immigrants and otherwise marginalized people — given wall-to-wall, trial-level coverage? If you’re surprised that in the face of politicized stigma, lack of public funding or good information, and a morass of restrictive laws allegedly meant to protect women, the vacuum was filled by a monster — well, the most generous thing I can say is that you haven’t been paying attention.

Carmon deals with the issue of “women’s health” in a vacuum, safely removed from the personal choices and responsibility of individual women. But how does lack of “coverage” of the issue of health care for the poor play into non-coverage of the Gosnell trial? It doesn’t, of course. Carmon has raised a straw man to distract from the issue she is supposedly addressing.

The issue of health care for the poor is a public-policy question. Trial coverage of Gosnell is a media-responsibility question. Carmon’s hobby horse that excuses poor women and makes them victims of their own bad decisions has nothing to do with why most of the mainstream media isn’t covering this trial. The examples she cites above — including a couple of blogs that no one reads (or certainly don’t have the reach and influence of many media outlets who aren’t covering the story) — are from two years ago. I suppose you could argue that since it was covered before, the case doesn’t need to be covered now. Go ahead and make that argument — it sounds silly.

I don’t know — and neither does Carmon — if Gosnell would have been operating within a system that paid for poor women’s abortions. I suspect he would have, given the incompetence of government shown in Pennsylvania. But to posit the notion that it is the fault of pro-lifers that Gosnell existed is politicizing infanticide, and even those who violently disagree with anti-abortion foes should condemn the actions of the abortionist as well as the lack of major media coverage of the trial.