From a photographer at the Gosnell trial, a look at coverage of the movie

Photographer J.D.Mullane took an iconic photo in 2013 at the trial of Kermit Gosnell: rows and rows of empty benches set aside for media. “Failure to cover [the trial] was an embarrassment for American journalism, and I will always take satisfaction helping to cause that embarrassment.”

He sees another cause for embarrassment for journalists and media gatekeepers like Facebook, as he sees how the movie Gosnell is being received, or not received. His essay is worth reading in full, at the following link:

http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/opinion/20181014/mullane-with-gosnell-another-media-blackout

N.H. journalism starts 2017 on the wrong foot

You’d think I could get through my first hot chocolate of 2017 without being moved to post here. Nope, thanks to the New Hampshire Sunday News, a Union Leader publication.

I’ve been a subscriber for decades and will remain one. The editorial page has retained a pro-life tone through changes in staff. Someone on the news side was a bit self-indulgent today, though, employing this subhead in an article by Kevin Landrigan and Dave Solomon on the upcoming legislative session.

“New efforts to restrict abortion services.”

OK, you have my attention, I thought as I sipped and savored my New Year’s mug of chocolate. I read on, curious about the use of the plural “efforts” when I’m aware of only one bill to limit post-viability abortions.

I shoulda known. The buffer zone and fetal homicide are grossly miscast as “efforts to restrict abortion services.” Here is the relevant portion of the article, page A8, carried over from the front page’s “State House to take on drugs, guns, money.” I’ll hold my remarks until after the excerpt, much as the content begs for in-line comments.

The new Republican governor is already well-known for his on-again, off-again, on-again relationship with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

Sununu calls himself “pro-choice,” which was why his deciding vote to block state grants to Planned Parenthood in 2015 became such a flash point in the campaign.

Less than a year later, Sununu got the chance for a makeup call on the matter and reversed field, endorsing grants for Planned Parenthood.

Sununu had opposed them last year due to the allegations that other locals of Planned Parenthood had paid for fetal body parts, allegations that were never taken to court to be proved.

What is less recognized but worth watching next year is whether Sununu gives any political support to restrictions on abortion laws that he did endorse in 2016.

For example, Sununu said he would sign into law the repeal of the still-unenforced law that requires there be a buffer zone around abortion clinics so that their patrons aren’t harassed by pro-life protesters.

Further in a mailing to pro-life voters, Sununu said he favors the so-called Health Care Freedom of Conscience Act that permits all employees of health care providers to refuse to work or counsel anyone regarding services that they morally oppose. 

Those services include abortion, birth control, stem-cell research and euthanasia.

Finally, Sununu said that unlike the last two governors who vetoed such measures, he would embrace legislation that treats an unborn fetus as a person when it comes to the state’s homicide laws. 

“I need your help to restore strong, value-based governance to our state,” Sununu wrote to pro-life voters days before his Nov. 8 victory.

Pro-choice advocates remain hopeful they can convince the legislature not to pass these measures.

The subhead is astounding, more so when you realize that the post-viability bill did not rate a mention.

One more time, folks: the buffer zone law does not protect abortion access, and repealing it would not restrict abortion access. “Harassment” can be addressed under disorderly conduct laws, which have not been used against New Hampshire pro-life witnesses in recent years. The failure to use such laws before infringing on the First Amendment is what doomed the Massachusetts law struck down by a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court in McCullen v. Coakley.

Further, the unenforced law would not “require… there be a buffer zone around abortion clinics.” The law as written gives abortion facility management sole discretion on whether, when, and where a zone may be posted.

The experience in other states with buffer zone laws in effect indicates that abortions go on regardless of the presence or absence of a buffer. The presence or absence of such a law has no effect on any right to abort.

Also under the subhead mentioning “restrict” is a brief mention of conscience legislation, as though respect for conscience rights means a restriction on abortion and is therefore a bad thing.

Finally, fetal homicide legislation finds itself under a subheading about “restrict[ing]” abortion services. The writers decline to use the words fetal homicide legislation, preferring treats an unborn fetus as a person when it comes to the state’s homicide laws.

Fetal homicide laws are on the books in more than three dozen states. Abortion is legal in all those states. No fetal homicide law, including the versions introduced in New Hampshire over the past quarter-century, would affect ANY decision made with the consent of the pregnant woman – including abortion.

That bears repeating. Fetal homicide laws are NOT applicable in any case where the death of the fetus occurs with the mother’s consent. Fetal homicide laws have nothing to do with abortion. 

Fetal homicide legislation gives prosecutors the right to seek a homicide charge against people like drunk drivers and abusive partners whose actions cause the death of a fetus, against the will of the mother.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court in 2009 – that’s going on eight years ago – had to overturn the conviction of a man whose drunk driving resulted in the death of Dominick Emmons. The unanimous Court concluded at that time,  “Should the legislature find the result in this case as unfortunate as we do, it should follow the lead of many other states and revisit the homicide statutes as they pertain to a fetus.”

A minor point, by comparison: the writers of the article mention two vetoes of fetal homicide legislation. There has been only one, by Governor John Lynch in 2012.

I doubt today’s news coverage would seem half so egregious had it not been under the words “new efforts to restrict abortion services.” Buffer zone repeal, fetal homicide laws, and respect for conscience rights don’t amount to restrictions.

Should you be moved to comment on the Sunday News coverage, you can leave a comment online under the article, reply to the paper’s Twitter or Facebook links to the piece, or email a letter to the editor via letters@unionleader.com.

 


ICYMI: newspaper corrects its NH March for Life coverage

Thumbs up to the New Hampshire Union Leader for trying to undo the smack-my-forehead moment that resulted from their January 17 coverage of New Hampshire’s 2016 march for life. In case you missed it – and it was easy to miss – this was on page A3 today, in the daily “corrections” box, highlighted here:

nhmfl2016 ul correction

This “oops” referred to the caption in Sunday’s coverage of the march. I saw it the day I returned from a trip, and I was very confused that the caption bore no relation to the photos I had seen elsewhere taken by people who attended the event. The Sunday News’s coverage via caption was obviously off.

Here’s the Sunday caption, and I’ve highlighted the goof in bold type: “Pro-life marchers, above, are blocked by pro-choice supporters from walking along Concord’s Main Street during Saturday’s annual NH Right to Life’s March for Life. At right, presidential candidate Rand Paul, standing at right, speaks with Garrett Lear, known as the “Patriot Pastor,” of Wakefield on the State House steps. There were about 100 pro-choice supporters and about two dozen pro-life supporters.”

nhmfl ul original coverage.jpeg

It’s fair to note that the New Hampshire Sunday News, which is the Sunday edition of the Union Leader, carried a photo from the march on page one, above the fold, with a reference to the remainder of the coverage on page C12.

This underscores the importance of pro-lifers posting their own eyewitness accounts and photos of events, and sharing those accounts as much as possible by every means.

It’s also an occasion to thank the Union Leader for doing the right thing by issuing a prompt correction. How many people pay as much attention to corrections as to the stories to which they refer? Not enough, I imagine – but the corrections are essential nonetheless.


 

Numb to the sale of body parts? Pretend they’re flags

The Center for Medical Progress isn’t finished documenting Planned Parenthood professionals talking about trafficking in body parts. Here’s today’s release.

News coverage? Journalist and commentator Mollie Hemingway has a piece in The Federalist today headlined “Ideas for reporters struggling to cover Planned Parenthood,” which indicates the apparent trouble her professional colleagues are having with the PP news.

Hemingway sees a difference between press coverage on CMS’s Planned Parenthood videos and another recent news story. Nine people in Charleston, South Carolina were murdered on June 17 by a white supremacist (I’m not even going to say “alleged,” in view of the shooter’s statements). The murders were followed by a controversy over the Confederate flag that (God help us) has virtually eclipsed the people who were murdered. What Hemingway cites from The New York Times gives you an idea of what she found:

“The New York Times has run stories and essays on the Confederate flag 149 times since June 17 (and only 39 of those mention [the murderer]), 41 of those in the first six days. That compares to three stories on Planned Parenthood during the same window, just 7 percent of what you’d expect if the New York Times considered those stories merely of equal importance.”


What would it take for the Planned Parenthood medical professionals in these videos to get the same kind of attention as the Confederate flag, never mind the Charleston murderer? Maybe if the health care [sic] professionals been discussing the sale of Confederate flags rather than body parts, they’d have been hounded out of their jobs and even professions by now. Would PP’s president have apologized merely for the “tone” of the conversations? Would she have doubted the veracity of a video showing her own employees if they’d been discussing procurement of a symbol of the slave-dependent Confederacy?

But no, Dr. Nucatola (the physician in the first video) wasn’t talking about flags. She was talking about intact livers from preborn children. She still has her job, and PP has circled its wagons. And now there’s a new phrase in PP’s vocabulary: “lifesaving medical research.” That’s what intact organs are for, and if you have a problem with that, then … I’ll let PP lobbyists finish the sentence.

Hemingway doesn’t stop with noting a disparity in news coverage. She goes on to suggest to her colleagues that there are some unexplored angles to the PP story. She lists a couple of dozen. For example:

“How far along in a pregnancy must a woman be for her child’s organs to be considered worthwhile for procurement, sale and transfer? How much does the value of a child’s liver, heart, lungs, etc., increase with time? Do the sales of baby organs form a significant enough part of Planned Parenthood’s business model to result in, say, filibustering of protections for late-term unborn children?…How did the Center for Medical Progress obtain the video? Who are they? Why haven’t the media ask[ed] tough questions of abortion clinics, historically? When Indiana passed a religious freedom bill, various media outlets roamed the countryside searching for vendors with religious objections to same-sex marriage, such as the owners of Memories Pizza. What questions might be posed to abortion clinic owners and managers around the country? Does the failure of the media to cover abortion well encourage undercover journalism operations, such as the one by Center for Medical Progress?”

I think this is too important to leave to The New York Times. It took a national reporter (Kirsten Powers) to shame major media outlets into covering Kermit Gosnell – but while the press benches at the Gosnell trial were nearly empty, the Philadelphia Inquirer was there to cover the trial, albeit as a local story. Maybe local reporters need to ask questions of local PP officials – questions like the ones Hemingway proposes.


A reporter who did her job

hashtag-gosnell (1024x355) (800x277)I’m indebted to Karen Testerman and TheGosnellMovie.com for reminding me of this anniversary: two years ago today, journalist Kirsten Powers called out her professional colleagues for their silence about the crimes of Kermit Gosnell. She effectively shamed major news organizations into covering the trial of an abortionist from whose activities they would have preferred to avert their gaze.

See her groundbreaking article from USA Today, 4/11/13. It was all the more effective coming from a woman not associated with the pro-life movement. Gosnell snipped the spines of children who survived attempts at late-term abortion. He ran a facility that left some women injured or worse. In Powers’ own words, “This is not about being ‘pro-choice’ or ‘pro-life.’ It’s about basic human rights.”

Abortion advocates went into damage-control mode as soon as Powers put the spotlight on Gosnell’s trial. A NARAL Pro-Choice America “Blog for Choice” post was particularly fascinating in a watching-a-train-wreck sort of way, with the writer claiming, “The horrific conditions in Gosnell’s clinic are an example of what happens to women and our basic dignity when abortion isn’t available through safe and legal providers.” I wrote a post of my own in response, “NARAL blames pro-lifers for Gosnell”, pointing out that Gosnell was operating legally, and he was “safe” as far as the state of Pennsylvania was concerned.

Kermit Gosnell wound up in jail for his crimes, including his role in the death of Karnamaya Mongar. (At last report, he was unrepentant.) Never forget what he did – and never forget what Kirsten Powers did.