This Has to Stop: Lake of Fire, Gosnell Trial and Media Silence

This post deals with a difficult issue and matters that could be considered gruesome. There are some graphic descriptions of certain medical procedures and malpractices so please consider these things before reading. This is not for the faint of heart. I intentionally wrote this as frankly as I could because I felt it needed to be told.

I’m going to get this out of the way at the beginning: I’m pro-life, so the opinions you’re going to read here are purely my own. I watched a documentary few months ago called Lake of Fire, a film almost 10 years in the making that set out to show both sides of the abortion argument in America. Shot in black and white, it tries to strike a balanced portrayal of ever argument for and against abortion using news footage, interviews with noted philosophers, doctors, religious leaders, political activists, and every day citizens. It’s by far the most balanced documentary I’ve ever seen. Each side is presented and each side has valid points to it’s argument. It definitely helped me understand more why many are pro-choice, and many made a lot of sense. But for me the strongest piece of evidence presented in the film was the actual abortions themselves.

I thank God this film was in black and white, because I honestly would not have been able to handle it being in color. It was a bold decision to show abortions in graphic detail, and this film shows three actual abortion procedures. Nothing is held back, and it is something I hope to never see again (if you are squeamish I would suggest you not read the rest of this paragraph). In the aftermath of one of the procedures, you see pieces of a child lying in a surgical tray after being sucked out of the cervix with a tube. A foot, hand, pieces of a body, blood, fluid, and a partially developed head with one eye staring out are seen. The other two procedures performed are just as graphic and they are at different stages of pregnancy, and watching it was something I still look back on with a heavy heart. It was something I felt I needed to see, to understand exactly what was happening, but a part of me wishes I hadn’t seen it, because it shook me to my very core.

The last twenty-odd minutes of the film are it’s most powerful as it follows a woman throughout the entire abortion experience, her arrival at the clinic, the medical history interview, the procedure itself, and the immediate aftermath. The film ends with this woman breaking down into sobs in the waiting room after the procedure is over. One of the last things she says? “I guess it’s more in my heart now than in my stomach.” To see the emotions being wrestled with throughout the whole process and to see this woman just collapse into tears is utterly heartbreaking.

Kermit Gosnell

So why this post? Why now? I watched this documentary months ago, and if any of you saw my Twitter at one time I referenced a post that was “the most difficult I’ve ever had to write”. I wrote the post immediately after watching the Lake of Fire film, but after carefully considering it and reading it over and over, I deleted it and abandoned it. It was just too difficult for me at the time. I guess my heart wasn’t ready. So this entire second post was written from scratch without using any of the original. What brought this about was the news, or for a better term lack of news about the horrendous trial of Kermit Gosnell and the things happening at his clinic in Philadelphia. To call the revelations of the barbaric and outright murderous practices conducted under his watch and often personal involvement shocking is putting it mildly. It’s inhuman and enraging. Reports of a child screaming during the procedure, instances of beheading and cutting infant spinal cords, the collecting of severed baby feet in jars, unsafe medical practices and conditions, unsanitary equipment and working spaces, utter disregard and outright endangerment concerning many of the female patients and the actual death of one woman are among many of the testimonies being heard in the trial. And the fact that Gosnell and his defense team are calling the trial “elitist”, “racist”, and a “prosecutorial lynching” is even more disgusting.

What has happened in Philadelphia is inexcusable. Having read the entirety of the Grand Jury report documenting the case and their findings, Gosnell and a few other individuals under his supervision on numerous occasions committed outright murder, severing the spinal cords and crushing the skulls of babies not only past the state of the Pennsylvania’s 24-week limit, but also live children out of the womb, who are protected under law. The report (link at the end of the post) states there was one known instance where Gosnell’s assistant brutally severed the spinal cord of a living, moving, breathing baby over 20 minutes AFTER being delivered. This is a quote directly from the report: “Gosnell once joked about a baby that was writhing as he cut its neck: ‘that’s what you call a chicken with its head cut off”.” Another example is when Gosnell induced labor in a 17 year old girl who was over 7 months pregnant (past Pennsylvania’s legal limit). The boy born was estimated to be almost six pounds in weight. Quote from witness in the report on this incident: “He was breathing and moving when Dr. Gosnell severed his spine and put the body in a plastic shoebox for disposal. The doctor joked that this baby was so big he could ‘walk me to the bus stop’.” Again, the question I’m screaming here is “Why isn’t this being reported on the news?” This isn’t some fluff piece that only a local news station or paper would run to fill up space. This is something that should be on every channel. There is plenty to report on, and in Conor Friedersdorf’s article in The Atlantic, he makes a convincing case for it, and I quote:
“For this isn’t solely a story about babies having their heads severed, though it is that. It is also a story about a place where, according to the grand jury, women were sent to give birth into toilets; where a doctor casually spread gonorrhea and chlamydiae to unsuspecting women through the reuse of cheap, disposable instruments; an office where a 15-year-old administered anesthesia; an office where former workers admit to playing games when giving patients powerful narcotics; an office where white women were attended to by a doctor and black women were pawned off on clueless untrained staffers. Any single one of those things would itself make for a blockbuster news story. Is it even conceivable that an optometrist who attended to his white patients in a clean office while an intern took care of the black patients in a filthy room wouldn’t make national headlines? 
But it isn’t even solely a story of a rogue clinic that’s awful in all sorts of sensational ways either. Multiple local and state agencies are implicated in an oversight failure that is epic in proportions! If I were a city editor for any Philadelphia newspaper the grand jury report would suggest a dozen major investigative projects I could undertake if I had the staff to support them. And I probably wouldn’t have the staff. But there is so much fodder for additional reporting.” 
A man (and a few underneath him) is on trial for murdering innocent children and no one is reporting it. Over the last eight days (to my knowledge and according to research as of the time of this posting*), not one of the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) has run a single thing about it, and yet they’ve all dedicated over a combined 41 minutes of national airtime and 36 stories on the coaching scandal going on at Rutgers. UNBELIEVABLE. What if the news media had brushed off Newtown?

*CNN started to cover the trial as of 4/12/13, so props to them.

Seats reserved for media at Gosnell trial in Philadelphia, taken 4/13/12. All empty.

Why is this not causing national headlines? Only reason is the most logical to me: Media executives are wary of running such material because they may lose funding from certain organizations such as Planned Parenthood or political powers who support abortion and don’t want bad press. One might say, “Well maybe they don’t want to run such graphic material”, and this argument is bogus. The news reports violent and graphic material every single day. To suddenly have a fear of intense vernacular is ridiculous and naive. The reason is obvious and it’s because there are people with their hands in other people’s pockets high on the ladder are paying the dividends, and they don’t want those hands to find other pockets. TV is an advertisement and special interest machine, and those investing the cash don’t want their toes stepped on. If you’ve ever seen the HBO show The Newsroom, this very problem is addressed. When the head of cable news network starts complaining to a show producer about what is being said on the broadcast about certain individuals, the producer responds with comments about how the news needs to be truth again, not half truth. The network head’s response? “I have business in front of this congress, and this WILL stop.” Legendary newsman Dan Rather has spoken glowingly about it and said it’s dead on in portraying what kind of conversations go on in the boardroom about what should be considered “news”. This is probably what has happened with the Gosnell story, and it’s a travesty. Kristen Powers of USA Today summed it up perfectly when she said, “The deafening silence of too much of the media, once a force for justice in America, is a disgrace.”

I’ve read the entire 281 page report, and what I’ve referenced above is only the tip of the iceberg, believe it or not. This is an injustice of unfathomable proportions, and for the majority of the media to remain silent on it feels equivalent to Holocaust denial. My heart is broken for so many reasons. Not just for the children being mutilated and the lives of those mothers for having to endure those experiences, but also for our country and it’s apparent inability to be honest about itself to those living within it. God help us.

Links
Lake of Fire (Full documentary) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SVC2yJ44IU
Two and a half hour long documentary on both sides of the abortion issue. It contains graphic imagery, including real abortions, and some instances of graphic language in the describing of various procedures.
Contains graphic descriptions of the procedures/crimes as well as a few graphic pictures. Please proceed with caution.3801 Lancaster: Documentary on Gosnell case – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7YmrsY4KSY
Written and directed by David Altrogge. Contains some graphic content and imagryImage via http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/626*352/Gosnell+Trial+Sketches5.jpg
Image via http://i.mommyish.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Kermit_Gosnell_25.jpg

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