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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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

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