NARAL has a convenient answer:
So why did women go to his clinic? Why not choose a legitimate, reputable provider of abortion care? During a Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee hearing on proposed abortion regulation bills, Tyhisha Hudson, a woman who had obtained an abortion at Gosnell’s clinic, was asked why she went to him. She testified that women in her neighborhood knew that Gosnell was the man you saw for the cheapest abortion.
Another Gosnell patient, Davida Johnson, noted in an Associated Press article that she intended to go to Planned Parenthood for an abortion procedure, but was scared away by anti-abortion protesters picketing outside the clinic. An acquaintance suggested she go to Gosnell, where protesters (ironically) were not an issue.
Evidence suggests that a number of factors influenced a woman’s decision to seek care at Gosnell’s clinic: Medicaid’s refusal to provide insurance coverage for most abortions; the scarcity of abortion providers in Pennsylvania (and across the nation); the fear of violence perpetrated by protestors at clinics, and the right-wing culture that has so stigmatized abortion that many think it is still illegal 40 years after Roe v. Wade.
Frankly, I’m as dumbfounded as anyone about why this story isn’t garnering more national attention. Most news editors are aware of it; a quick Google search turns up close to 15,000 online stories (mostly from pro-life sources and local news outlets) related to the word “Gosnell.” When I worked at CBS News, we had daily conference calls in which bureau chiefs from around the country updated senior producers on stories and pitched ideas for that night’s show. This cannot have escaped the attention of the editors in New York.
So, I’d have to ask the news executives who are not covering this story:
- Why do you think the Gosnell story isn’t important?
- What elements does it need to make it important?
- Since abortion is one of the most hotly debated and divisive issues in the country, do you think perhaps there might be widespread interest in this particular abortion story?
- When was the last time a doctor stood trial for multiple cases of infanticide? Don’t you think that makes this story a little unusual and, maybe, newsworthy?
- Even if you are pro-choice, you have to concede that what happened at Gosnell’s clinic is horrifying. In a “news you can use” vein, you might consider this sad saga a cautionary tale and report on how not to have this nightmare happen to you. Women considering abortion should know how to avoid these kinds of doctors, don’t you think?
- At the very least, the talking heads on cable might consider a roundtable to engage viewers in a necessary conversation on abortion. Bill Clinton’s “safe, legal and rare” argument in defense of legalized abortion seems to have been thrown out the window here. Isn’t that worth talking about?
And isn’t it time an ombudsman or news executive came forward and explained the bewildering decision to not cover what is rapidly becoming one of the most sensational (and sensationally significant, maybe even historic) murder trials in America?
I think so.