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Who’s Ignoring Gosnell?


Conor Friedersdorf is the latest to ask why there isn’t more coverage of the Gosnell case. As Irin Carmon points out, there is a very good answer to this question. First of all, we should be clear about who hasn’t been ignoring the story: namely, supporters of reproductive rights:

If you’ve never heard of the Gosnell story, it’s not because of a coverup by the liberal mainstream media. It’s probably because you failed to pay attention to the copious coverage among pro-choice and feminist journalists, as well as the big news organizations, when the news first broke in 2011. There would be something rich, if it weren’t so infuriating, about these (almost uniformly male, as it happens) reporters and commentators scrambling to break open this shocking untold story. You know, the one that was written about here, here and here, to name some disparate sources.

So why hasn’t there been more coverage in the mainstream media? For reasons that are pretty obvious when you think about it:

I can’t speak for big news organizations like CNN and the networks, but let’s think about this question another way: How often do such places devote their energies to covering the massive health disparities and poor outcomes that are wrought by our current system? How often are the travails of the women whose vulnerabilities Gosnell exploited — the poor, immigrants and otherwise marginalized people — given wall-to-wall, trial-level coverage? If you’re surprised that in the face of politicized stigma, lack of public funding or good information, and a morass of restrictive laws allegedly meant to protect women, the vacuum was filled by a monster — well, the most generous thing I can say is that you haven’t been paying attention.

The fact that the exploitation of poor women, predominantly of color, hasn’t been subject to extensive coverage is pretty much the ultimate dog-bites-man story. (It’s to Friedersdorf’s credit that he at least mentions this, although he fails to draw the obvious conclusion.) The story is now being exploited by opponents of legal abortion, although the idea that the proper response to this is to make safe abortions more stigmatized and inaccessible is a massive non-sequitur. More on that last point next week.

UPDATE: Sarah Posner has more.

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