Matthew Balan

Opinion

Peggy Noonan interrupts media blackout on Gosnell trial

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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‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’

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An ultrasound of the five different compartments, each with its own baby, inside Kim's womb.

AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life. 

“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September. 

“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote. 

Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds. 

The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again. 

After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test. 

“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.

The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five. 

“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”

“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.

Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.” 

“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”

“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.” 

“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.” 

“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born. 

The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well. 



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UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react

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GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads. 

The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution. 

“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters. 

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.

“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.

But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it. 

The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”

Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.

“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said. 

While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms. 

“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added. 

Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born. 

“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.

“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.



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Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’

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DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.

“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.

"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.

There have been over 58,000,000 abortions since the 1973 court ruling legalizing abortion in all 50 states, according to National Right to Life.

That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.

“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."

Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.

All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.

Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.

On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”

Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.

At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.

But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.



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