Matthew Balan

Peggy Noonan interrupts media blackout on Gosnell trial

Matthew Balan
By Matthew Balan

April 3, 2013 (Newsbusters.org) - The Big Three networks' morning and evening newscasts still haven't covered the murder trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell as of Monday morning. ABC, CBS, and NBC have maintained their coverage blackout despite the graphic witness testimony and the in-your-face courtroom antics of Dr. Gosnell's defense attorney during the first two weeks of the proceedings. The Philadelphia physician is charged with murdering seven newborn children at his decrepit abortion facility.

This glaring omission by the broadcast networks would have continued, if Peggy Noonan hadn't provided the first mention of the murder trial on Sunday's Meet the Press on NBC. The Wall Street Journal columnist spotlighted the "haunting and disturbing story of this doctor", and pointed out how coverage has been "hard to find."

Fill-in host Chuck Todd raised the abortion issue during a panel discussion on the Sunday morning show that included Noonan, senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod, the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, and former Republican Congressman Tom Davis. Todd first hyped how "North Dakota's Republican governor, Jack Dalrymple, signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country" and how "there's been a lot of movement, and they're all in red states...of banning abortion at certain times – at 20 weeks or less."

The NBC journalist then turned to the former Reagan speechwriter and wondered if "abortion and the life movement could be what motivates evangelicals again" as same-sex "marriage" becomes an issue that is "splitting Republicans a little bit". Noonan replied by shifting the discussion away from the recent state-level restrictions on abortion and bringing up the decades-long moral debate, with the Gosnell case as prime example:

PEGGY NOONAN: Actually, that's not my question. Here's the thing: this issue will not go away – abortion. It is a – a constant agitating of the American soul. You mentioned the – the legal move that was made in one of the states to cut off abortion after six weeks. The real story this week is the haunting and disturbing story of this doctor in Philadelphia, Gosnell, who is being tried this week. And if you wanted to watch the testimony, it was hard to find, but if you wanted to have a sense what was happening, you could find it on the Internet or in the local papers.

This was a man who had an abortion mill that was, in fact, a death mill for babies essentially born. He's being tried now. We'll see how it goes. But this is a story that is haunting about the implications of decisions made by courts. This decision – the abortion issue will not go away if you think it is the taking of a human life. And so, it's going to stay there and get itself worked through in the courts again and again.

The columnist is on the mark about the difficulty of finding news coverage of the Gosnell trial. The Philadelphia Inquirer is one of the few outlets that has provided regular reporting since the trial began on March 18, 2013. In a March 30 report, correspondent Joseph A. Slobodzian documented the confrontation between Jack McMahon, Gosnell's attorney, and Assistant Medical Examiner Gary Collins during the latter's testimony: "The byplay between Collins and McMahon got steadily more heated until Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart had to warn them. McMahon appeared to be seething when at one point, Collins stood, ripped one of the lawyer's charts from an easel, and began creating his own exhibit." A few days earlier, McMahon and the prosecutor shouted back and forth at each other over the issue of a toxicology report, as reported by NBC Philadelphia.

Later in the segment, Todd asked Axelrod a slanted question about the 2012 presidential race: "The issue of reproductive rights was something you exploited in your campaign in Colorado and Virginia in particular. That's probably why you carried those two states in your opinion, right?" He also wondered, on the broader question of social issues, whether "Republicans [are] pushing the envelope too much, and is there going to be – you saw it as a snap back."

However, when former Rep. Davis highlighted that "actually, the country has moved slightly right" on the abortion issue, the NBC host replied by acknowledging that "technology...had moved the country right." In other words, it's gotten harder for pro-abortion activists to dehumanize the unborn because of the advent of detailed ultrasound scans.

The transcript of the relevant portion of the panel discussion from Sunday's Meet the Press:

CHUCK TODD: If it wasn't for gay marriage this week, what happened in North Dakota on abortion – and I want to get all – all of your takes on this – would have been, I think, the big social issue. North Dakota's Republican governor, Jack Dalrymple, signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country – six weeks – would ban abortions. Now, when he signed it, he admitted that legally, it probably is not going to stand up to a legal challenge, but I want to show you there's been a lot of movement, and they're all in red states – David Axelrod, by the way – on this issue of – of banning abortion at certain times – at 20 weeks or less. That's the map we have, on the board, of all the states that have done 20 weeks or less – an abortion ban. Every single one of them, by the way, were states that were carried by Mitt Romney.

[NBC News Graphic: "States That Have Passed Legislation Banning Abortion At Or Before 20 Weeks: ID, AZ, ND, NE, KS, OK, AR, LA, IN, AL, GA, NC; The Washington Post/Guttmacher Institute/NARAL Pro-Choice America"]

Peggy Noonan – this issue of abortion – as gay marriage falls as an issue, that maybe it's now splitting Republicans a little bit. You could see Jeff Flake was uncomfortable just talking about the issue. Abortion and the life movement could be what motivates evangelicals again, could it not?

PEGGY NOONAN: I don't know. Actually, that's not my question. Here's the thing: this issue will not go away – abortion. It is a – a constant agitating of the American soul. You mentioned the – the legal move that was made in one of the states to cut off abortion after six weeks. The real story this week is the haunting and disturbing story of this doctor in Philadelphia, Gosnell, who is being tried this week. And if you wanted to watch the testimony, it was hard to find, but if you wanted to have a sense what was happening, you could find it on the Internet or in the local papers.

This was a man who had an abortion mill that was, in fact, a death mill for babies essentially born. He's being tried now. We'll see how it goes. But this is a story that is haunting about the implications of decisions made by courts. This decision – the abortion issue will not go away if you think it is the taking of a human life. And so, it's going to stay there and get itself worked through in the courts again and again-

TODD: I was going to say, it does seem that there is a strategy now that Republican governors and these Republican-controlled legislatures are basically trying to push the Supreme Court to retake up abortion in some form.

EUGENE ROBINSON: Well, yeah, I think they want the Court to retake up abortion. And, look, I think Peggy is right that abortion won't go away the way gay marriage, I think, will go away in a few years. And I think – and we'll get past immigration. The best we ever get to on abortion is a truce. The country is – is divided-

TODD: What's the new truce?

ROBINSON: Well, we're in one of those periods where, maybe, the – the, sort of, truce line –  people are trying to move it one way or the other. But ultimately, people who are opposed to abortion, because they believe it's murder – it's very hard to compromise on that. It's very hard to say, well, you know, you go ahead and murder, if that's what you believe. That's not what I happen to believe, but it is what people-

TODD: And yet, David Axelrod, the issue of reproductive rights was something you exploited in your campaign-

DAVID AXELROD: Yes-

TODD: In Colorado and Virginia in particular-

AXELROD: Yes-

TODD: That's probably why you carried those two states in your opinion, right?

AXELROD: Yes – well, and you look at the gender gap in – in the election and so on. These were motivational issues for people on our side as well.

Let me make a final point on your first point, though, about all these social issues. What's interesting to me is these were once wedge issues for Republicans. Now, some of them are working as wedge issues against Republicans, and it shows a shift of attitudes. Now, abortion is a separate discussion for the reasons that Gene just mentioned, but generally, there's been a drift on – on some of these other issues.

TODD: That – Tom [Davis], I have to say, that does seem as if every other time the culture war has percolated over the last two – generation, it was something that would favor Republicans. Does it? It's not necessarily something that favors Republicans-

DAVIS: No. In politics, it's race, ethnicity, culture before you get to economics at this point. And even many groups who agree with Republicans on some of these social issues – the branding on ethnicity, and if we talk about immigration – is so bad, they won't even look at Republican candidates. So, it works in the Democrats' favor in many of these cases. Abortion is a different matter. You look at abortion – actually, the country has moved slightly right, and Americans are very conflicted.

TODD: Technology would move – it had moved the country right.

DAVIS: Of course-

TODD: The question is, are – are Republicans pushing the envelope too much, and is there going to be – you saw it as a snap back.

NOONAN: Look, Ruth Bader Ginsberg herself last week was quoted as saying she thought Roe versus Wade – I'll miss the word – was a bit of an overreach, in terms of – of the way the Court did it, leaving this issue not settled democratically; not settled in legislatures and by the people and referenda; but being imposed on them. When you have a great, terrible moral issue, and you impose a certain thing on people, you will cause a half century's riling.

TODD: Well, yeah, I'm going to – go ahead, David.

AXELROD: No. I mean, I think it's a polarizing issue; it's a difficult and troubling issue; but I think the politics are more complicated, and there will be a backlash to those kinds of initiatives.

TODD: And it's – it's polarizing within the party sometimes as well. Thank you all for part one of this roundtable.


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UK quietly opens the door to genetic engineering, ‘3-parent’ embryos

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By Hilary White

Last month the UK’s Department of Health quietly redefined the term “genetic modification” to open the door to allow certain kinds of modification of human embryos – thus potentially making it the first country in the world to allow genetic engineering.

Scottish journalist Lori Anderson recently raised the alarm over the change in a column in the Scotsman, in which she alleged that the change is designed to “dupe” the British public into accepting “full-scale germline genetic engineering,” using human embryos as test subjects.

Anderson said that in July, the Department of Health “effectively re-wrote the definition of ‘genetic modification’ to specifically exclude the alteration of human mitochondrial genes or any other genetic material that exists outside the chromosomes in the nucleus of the cell.”

“The reason for doing this is that it believes it will be easier to sell such an advancement to the public if it can insist that the end result will not be a ‘GM baby’.”

This change follows a statement from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the government body that regulates experimental research on human embryos, approving the procedure to create an embryo from one couple’s gametes but with genetic material added from a third party donor, a procedure called in the press “three-parent embryos”.

Anderson quoted a statement from the Department of Health comparing this procedure to donating blood. The statement read, “There is no universally agreed definition of ‘genetic modification’ in humans – people who have organ transplants, blood donations, or even gene therapy are not generally regarded as being ‘genetically modified’. The Government has decided to adopt a working definition for the purpose of taking forward these regulations.”

This assertion was challenged by one of the UK’s leading fertility researchers, Lord Robert Winston, who told the Independent, “Of course mitochondrial transfer is genetic modification and this modification is handed down the generations. It is totally wrong to compare it with a blood transfusion.”

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The HFEA, which throughout its history has been known as one of the world’s most permissive regulatory bodies, has been working steadily towards allowing genetically modified embryos to be implanted in women undergoing artificial procreation treatments. In a document issued to the government last year, they called the insertion of mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) into embryos “mitochondrial donation” or “mitochondrial replacement”. mDNA is the genetic material found in the cytoplasm outside a cell’s nucleus, problems with which can cause a host of currently incurable genetic illnesses.

In the statement issued in June, the HFEA said the technique of inserting “donated” mDNA into already existing in vitro embryos, “should be considered ‘not unsafe’ for the use on a ‘specific and defined group of patients.’”

“Mitochondria replacement (or mitochondrial donation) describes two medical techniques, currently being worked on by UK researchers, which could allow women to avoid passing on genetically inherited mitochondrial diseases to their children,” the statement said.

The HFEA admitted that the techniques are “at the cutting edge of both science and ethics” and said that the results of a “public consultation” in 2012/13 were being examined by the government, which is considering “draft regulations”.

In June, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children echoed Lori Anderson’s concern, commenting that the HFEA is attempting to deceive the public. Paul Tully, SPUC’s general secretary, said, “Human gene manipulation is being sold to a gullible public on a promise of reducing suffering, the same old con-trick that the test-tube baby lobby has been using for decades.” 

Any manipulation of human genetics, always breaks “several important moral rules,” entailing the creation of “human guinea-pigs,” Tully said. “Human germ-line manipulation and cloning – changing the genetic inheritance of future generations - goes against internationally-agreed norms for ethical science.”

He quoted Professor Andy Greenfield, the chairman of the scientific review panel that approved the techniques, who said that there is no way of knowing what effect this would have on the children created until it is actually done.

“We have to subject children who have not consented and cannot consent to being test subjects,” Tully said.

Altering the mDNA of an embryo is what cloning scientists refer to as “germline” alteration, meaning that the changes will be carried on through the altered embryo’s own offspring, a longstanding goal of eugenicists.

In their 1999 book, “Human Molecular Genetics” Tom Strachan and Andrew Read warned that the use of mitochondrial alteration of embryos would cross serious ethical boundaries.

Having argued that germline therapy would be “pointless” from a therapeutic standpoint, the authors said, “There are serious concerns, therefore, that a hidden motive for germline gene therapy is to enable research to be done on germline manipulation with the ultimate aim of germline-based genetic enhancement.”

“The latter could result in positive eugenics programs, whereby planned genetic modification of the germline could involve artificial selection for genes that are thought to confer advantageous traits.”


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Cable series portrays nun as back-alley abortionist

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By Ben Johnson
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'To depict a nun who performs an abortion is a new low,' said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

The Cinemax TV series The Knick portrayed a Roman Catholic nun as a back alley abortionist who tells a Catholic woman God will forgive her for going through with the procedure.

In its latest episode, which aired Friday night, the series showed Sister Harriet (an Irish nun played by Cara Seymour) telling a Catholic woman named Nora, “Your husband will know nothing of it. I promise.”

“Will God forgive me?” Nora asked, adding, “I don't want to go to Hell for killing a baby.”

“He knows that you suffered,” the sister replied, before performing the illegal abortion off-screen. “I believe the Lord's compassion will be yours.” 

The period medical drama is set at the Knickerbocker Hospital (“The Knick”) in New York City around the turn of the 20th century, when abortion was against both civil and ecclesiastical law.

“It is no secret that Hollywood is a big pro-abortion town, but to depict a nun who performs an abortion is a new low,” Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said. “The only saving grace in this episode is the real-life recognition of the woman who is about to have the abortion: she admits that her baby is going to be killed.”

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The series is directed by Steven Soderbergh, known for such films as Erin Brockovich, the Oceans Eleven franchise, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape. More recently he directed The Girlfriend Experience, a film about prostitution starring pornographic actress Sasha Grey.

Critics have hailed his decision to include a black surgeon in circa 1900 America. But after last week's episode, the New York Times stated that The Knick has chosen to “demonstrate concern for other kinds of progress,” citing the depiction of the abortion. 


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Balcony of the Grandmaster Palace in Valletta, which houses the Maltese Parliament. Shutterstock
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Catholic Malta enacts ‘transgender’ employment discrimination law

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By Hilary White

An amendment to Malta’s Employment and Industrial Relations Act means that employment “discrimination” against “transsexuals” is now officially prohibited in the Catholic country. The provision, which was quietly passed in May, came into effect on August 12th.

The law allows those who believe they have a complaint to make a case with the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality, with an industrial tribunal or the courts. A government spokesman told local  media, “Employees do not need to prove that their employer has discriminated against them.”

“They only need to provide enough evidence pointing to a likely case of discrimination. The employer will then need to prove that discrimination has not taken place.”

The amendment defines illegal discrimination against “transgendered” people as, “in so far as the ground of sex is concerned, any less favourable treatment of a person who underwent or is undergoing gender reassignment, which, for the purpose of those regulations shall mean, where a person is considering or intends to undergo, or is undergoing, a process, or part of a process, for the purposes of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.” 

Silvan Agius, Human Rights policy coordinator with the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, told Malta Today newspaper that the new amendment brings Maltese law into harmony with EU law.

“This amendment is continuing the government’s equality mainstreaming exercise. The inclusion of gender reassignment in the Act also brings it in line with the anti-discrimination articles found in both Malta’s Constitution and the Equality for Men and Woman Act,” Agius said.

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Agius is a key member of the homosexual activist apparatus in Malta’s government working to entrench the ideology of gender in law in Malta and elsewhere. In June, he was a featured speaker, with the notorious British anti-Catholic campaigner Peter Tatchell, at a Glasgow conference organised by the Edinburgh-based Equality Network, a group that helps organise and train homosexualist campaign groups.

The amendment to the law follows promises made recently by the country’s equalities minister, Helena Dalli, to a “transgender” congress in Hungary in May. Dalli, who brought forward Malta’s recently passed same-sex civil unions bill, told a meeting of gender activists in Budapest that while her government’s focus had been mainly on homosexuals, that she would shortly be turning her attention to “trans” people.

“The next step now is a Bill towards the enactment of a Gender Identity law. A draft bill has been prepared and it has now been passed to the LGBTI Consultative Council for its vetting and amendment as necessary,” Dalli said.

“Some of you may be thinking that we are moving forward quickly. I have a different perspective though. We are doing what is right, what should have been done a long time ago,” she added.

Since the legalisation of divorce in 2011, Malta has been remarkable for its rapid adoption of the gender ideology’s agenda. In 2013, Malta was named the “fastest climber” on the Rainbow Europe Index, a survey organised annually by ILGA Europe, the leading homosexualist lobby group funded directly by the European Union.

The ILGA Europe report notes (p. 114) that Helena Dalli Helena “was one of 11 EU Member States’ equality ministers to co-sign a call for the European Commission to work on a comprehensive EU policy for LGBT equality.” The report also noted that although the new Labour government has proved cooperative, the Christian Democrat Nationalist Party has “progressively proved more receptive to LGBTI issues, including same-sex unions.”


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