Anna Higgins is Director, Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. This article appeared on Townhall.com, April 23, 2013.
The horrors that have been revealed by witnesses in the murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell are almost unspeakable. It appears the disgusting conditions found at his facility were just the tip of the iceberg. As we hear further testimony, we have discovered that babies born alive were routinely killed with scissors. One worker testified that she heard a baby scream as it was killed and another worker said she witnessed a baby "jump" when it was stabbed with scissors. Just as disturbing is the fact that these gruesome deaths could have been prevented had this abortion facility been inspected by the state of Pennsylvania. Despite numerous complaints, it is reported that Gosnell's house of horrors remained uninspected since 1993. According to the Grand Jury Report, the political powers that be in Pennsylvania decided that inspections should be avoided because they would pose a "barrier to women." These facts together are so appalling that they should disturb any human being on the most visceral level, no matter his political affiliation.
In the midst of the Gosnell trial, another shocking infanticide story broke. Alisa LaPolt Snow, lobbyist for the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, testified in opposition to a bill that would require life-saving treatment for infants born alive following a failed abortion. She complained that such born alive infant protection acts "insert politics where it doesn't belong." Administering life-saving treatment to a live infant interferes with "a woman's ability to make her own personal, medical decisions." It is hard to imagine a policy that could be less political than saving the life of a struggling infant who is alive outside the womb. Legislators were shocked by these statements, as well they should have been.
The response of Americans to these horrific stories of infanticide has also been shock and outrage. Until last week, however, there was almost no way to gauge the opinion of the public because the mainstream media had remained virtually silent, largely refusing to cover these stories. Thanks to grassroots efforts from astute citizens, concerned non-profit groups, and a few courageous congressmen, the media seem to have gotten the message that silence in the face of such important human rights events is unacceptable.
Rep. Chris Smith held a special speaking panel in the House of Representatives on April 11 to address this very issue. One speaker, Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, gave a very eloquent summary of this egregious violation of journalistic responsibility. He noted of the Gosnell debacle, "The loss of these lives should scar the consciences of people everywhere ... Gosnell is a predator who should be publicly exposed and denounced." As for the media, Rep Stutzman hit the nail on the head, asking, "How is it in our day of constant news, not a single major news outlet has reported [on the Gosnell trial]?" He also made a very poignant point that gets to the heart of why this story had gone unreported - perhaps it is that our national conscience has been seared by the deaths of 1.2 million children by abortion every year.
Perhaps we have become so accustomed to accepting abortion as a "choice" rather than the death of a unique human being that infanticide has become simply a natural and acceptable extension of the "abortion right." This Pennsylvania abortion facility is not the first, nor will it be the last, to be revealed as unsafe and unsanitary. In fact, many facilities around the country have been found to be in violation of basic health and safety standards. Just last week a Planned Parenthood in Wilmington, Delaware closed its doors when two employees released statements that the facility was performing abortions in an unsafe and unsanitary manner. The local TV station covered this story extensively, to their credit. However, these violations continue to go largely unreported in the media.
Every American should be incensed that he cannot trust the media to cover, in a neutral manner, serious events affecting human rights without heavy pressure from the public and from Congress. We are constantly bombarded with stories of celebrities and athletes, yet this important story - the perpetration of violence against children - was largely ignored. We must remain vigilant and demand that all stories affecting our families and our values be given fair coverage. Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council, along with several conservative leaders signed on to a letter authored by the Media Research Center demanding that networks stop censoring coverage of these events. It is our hope that the media continues coverage of the Gosnell trial in a fair, impartial manner and that stories so obviously important to the national interest are never again pushed to the wayside.