Gosnell and Abortion

Slowly, like a prodded beast, the media has begun to turn its attention to the Gosnell case, the infamous abortion mill that was little more than a late term abbatoir. Rather than review the entire, sorry mess of evil, let’s give this to Conor Friedersdorf. Of more interest has been the hesitancy of the media to cover this case, here the work  of Mollie Hemingway at Get Religion has played a major role (this is her latest).

Yet, prodding the media seems futile. Why do they turn down such a seemingly juicy story? Friedersdorf, again has some ideas. The best idea been that of “mushiness” — the uncertainty of the general public (and so the reader) on the question of abortion itself. No matter how the conservative would trumpet Gosnell as an exemplar of what abortion “means” the reality may be something different.

The problem with that framing is simply that most abortions take place far earlier (90 percent in the first trimester), and were one to grant the framing of Plan B as an abortifacent, then far more than 90 percent. This shift of weight to the early stages of a pregnancy certainly undergirds public experience and understanding of the issue. Ironically, then the use  of the term “abortion” to cover everything from infanticide in the Gosnell case, to birth control in Plan B undercuts potential outrage and framing of Gosnell as about “abortion.”

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