Reflecting mounting frustration over the lack of press coverage of inner-city Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell's murder trial, a group of pro-life House members took to the floor to denounce what they call a "national media cover-up" of the sensational case.
"Again, I ask my colleagues and I ask the news media, 'Why the blackout?'" said Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican. "Will America ever be told of the brutality of abortion?"
The congressional outcry is the latest effort to draw attention to the gruesome courtroom drama unfolding in Philadelphia, where Dr. Gosnell stands accused of committing eight murders including seven live babies born after botched abortions at the Women's Medical Society.
"Just hearing about this trial and quite frankly, I haven't heard about it on TV, and if I weren't informed about it leading up this special order, I wouldn't know about the Gosnell trial, one that I think is really sickening just to hear the facts," said Rep. John Fleming, Louisiana Republican.
The trial is being covered by The Associated Press, as well as the Philadelphia and Delaware media, but has yet to earn a report on the major television broadcast or cable networks since jury selection began March 4.
The AP reported that former clinic worker Ashley Baldwin testified Thursday that she saw a baby's chest move in a hallway shortly after the infant was delivered. Known as "Baby A," the infant was so large that another assistant took a photo of the baby with her cellphone.
Prosecutors say Dr. Gosnell performed the procedure well past Pennsylvania's 24-week legal limit for abortions. The 72-year-old doctor is accused of killing seven infants by snipping their spines with scissors after they were born. The doctor is also charged with contributing to the death of a woman who died while undergoing an abortion.
Miss Baldwin, now in her 20s, also testified that she was 15 when she began assisting with injections and abortions at the filthy, disorganized West Philadelphia clinic.
The conservative Media Research Center has spearheaded a drive for more national coverage, noting that the three major broadcast networks have aired a combined zero minutes on the Gosnell trial, compared with more than 41 minutes on the firing of an abusive Rutgers University basketball coach.
"The media doesn't want to talk about it," said Rep. Scott Perry, Pennsylvania Republican. "Not NBC, CBS, ABC, CNBC, not Fox, and not the leaders of our nation, not the president."
So far the networks have not responded to the MRC's April 4 letter calling for media coverage of the trial.
Rep. Scott Garrett, New Jersey Republican, said Thursday that the outrage over conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh's comments on contraception last year drew far more national reportage than has the trial, which he described as "nonexistent."
"Where is the outrage that nothing of this is being reported in any of the major newspaper across this country, on any of the major radio stations, on any of the major TV or cable channels?" asked Mr. Garrett.
While the trial's horrific details alone would seem to make it newsworthy, lawmakers said the proceedings also highlight the larger ethical and moral debate emerging over abortion. Several speakers pointed to a paper authored last year by two Italian medical ethicists at Australian universities supporting "after-birth abortion," or infanticide.
Rep. Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican who is an anesthesiologist, said that "apparently in Dr. Gosnell's mind, there was little difference between a late-term abortion and killing a baby after birth," which is essentially the same logic used by the ethicists.
"So why this may sound grotesque and shocking that they're OK with killing a newborn, it's merely an ethical, logical extension of the way we have been treating fetuses since 1973," Mr. Harris said.
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