Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

Two columnists show how the Gosnell case threatens the 'pro-choice' stand

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 16, 2013

Yesterday while I was trying to draw the key lesson from the Gosnell trial, two other columnists were demonstrating that if this horrible story makes people stop and think, the facile public acceptance of unrestricted-abortion-on-demand will end.

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal describes himself as occupying the “mushy middle” on the abortion issue; he finds the Roe v. Wade decision indefensible, but still sees the pro-life stance as “a bridge too far.” Taranto opens a long and insightful column with this arresting observation on the Gosnell story: “On Friday, was compelled to publish a page confirming that the story is real, not merely an urban legend.”

So Yes, the mainstream media have underplayed the story. Taranto goes on to show that the media generally cling to the authority of the Roe decision, but resist all attempts to analyze or discuss the matter:

But these days the appeal to the authority of Roe is pretty much all there is apart from sloganeering, name-calling, appeals to self-interest and an emphasis on difficult and unusual cases such as pregnancy due to rape.

That resistance to discussion make senses, Taranto continues, because any logical debate exposes the poverty of the arguments for unrestricted abortion. He shows how the very language used in news stories is tailored to avoid any serious discussion of what is actually happening in the abortion clinics.

Taranto’s column is a masterful treatment, in a very influential newspaper. But there’s more: Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post--a paper that is certainly not associated with the pro-life movement— candidly explains why the mainstream media outlets have avoided the Gosnell story:

I say we didn’t write more because the only abortion story most outlets ever cover in the news pages is every single threat or perceived threat to abortion rights. In fact, that is so fixed a view of what constitutes coverage of that issue that it’s genuinely hard, I think, for many journalists to see a story outside that paradigm as news.

Henneberger goes on to show by example that once you begin thinking about the system that allows Gosnell to flourish, you begin to realize that there should be at least some government oversight, some legal regulation of the practice of abortion. You begin to notice that the arguments put forward by abortion proponents are “obtuse” and based upon “a particular kind of faith claim that’s not associated with science.”

Together Taranto and Henneberger show that once a thoughtful person pauses to reflect on the Gosnell case, and to search for real answers rather than facile excuses, the moral and intellectual poverty of the abortion industry’s arguments are exposed.

By the way, regular visitors to this site may take particular interest in a fact that caught Melinda Henneberger’s attention. The National Abortion Federation (NAF) inspected Gosnell’s facility, found the conditions there deplorable, and refused his application for membership. But the NAF did not denounce Gosnell, or report his dangerous practices to state authorities. As we have learned from painful experience over the past decade, when authorities know of misconduct, and cover up the evidence, they can and should be held responsible for crimes that are made possible by their negligence.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: feedback - Mar. 31, 2018 5:38 PM ET USA

    "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels...'" [Mat. 25:41]

  • Posted by: Montserrat - Mar. 31, 2018 2:39 PM ET USA

    Saw a preview in the theater of the documentary on Francis subtitled “A Man of his Word.” Cringed. Prayed that none of the non-Catholic friends with me would ask me about it. Its very existence is a heavy cross to bear. Exploitation at its worst (if you’re a faithful and aware Catholic).

  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - Mar. 30, 2018 6:30 PM ET USA

    Apples and oranges. The difficulty with the comparison here is the Pope has stated several times, publicly, in the past that Hell is real. Still I struggle. The question is why does the Vatican and the Pontiff allow this particular journalist to continue making interviews if they all know he will purposefully get it wrong?

  • Posted by: MWCooney - Mar. 30, 2018 3:49 PM ET USA

    Not to be picky, but you forgot another phase, which occurs somewhere around 4 and 5: The Pope's proxies state emphatically that (in this case) there is no Hell, and the Pope speaks approvingly of their interpretation, all the while excoriating as "rigid" any and all who disagree.

  • Posted by: shrink - Mar. 30, 2018 8:19 AM ET USA

    OUTSTANDING analysis. This process resembles a form of psychological manipulation called "crazy-making", a ploy often used by passive-aggressive personalities, particularly a husband (or wife) who wants out of marriage. The husband uses this ploy to drive the wife to the brink of a psychological breakdown. She sues for divorce, and gets blamed for the breakup. I suspect that Francis wants a divorce.