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Weeks In, Murder Trial of Philadelphia Abortion Provider Draws National Media Spotlight

Weeks In, Murder Trial of Philadelphia Abortion Provider Draws National Media Spotlight

April 16, 2013 — National news outlets on Monday escalated coverage of the murder trial of Philadelphia abortion provider Kermit Gosnell after critics claimed members of the media were ignoring the case because of its disturbing nature and focus on abortion, the New York Times reports (Gabriel, New York Times, 4/15).

In March, Gosnell went on trial for charges of killing seven infants and causing the death of a pregnant woman during a procedure at a West Philadelphia clinic that a grand jury report has described as filthy and dangerous (Warner, Reuters, 4/15).

For weeks, the trial primarily drew local media attention. However, in a USA Today opinion piece on Thursday, Fox News commentator Kirsten Powers criticized national media outlets, writing that "when Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke ... there was nonstop media hysteria," but in the case of Gosnell, there has been only a "deafening silence."

After Powers' piece was published, more commentators began to speak out, including Jeffrey Goldberg, who suggested in Bloomberg View that the national media ignored the trial because it "upsets a particular narrative about the reality of certain types of abortion, and that reality isn't something some pro-choice absolutists want to discuss."

However, other commentators, including Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum, noted that conservative news outlets also have given little attention to the trial (New York Times, 4/15).

Federal Lawmakers Tepid on Clinic Regulation

Regulation of abortion clinics has typically been a state matter, with just a handful of bills on the issue surfacing in Congress over the last decade, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 4/16).

Although some federal lawmakers have spoken out about the Gosnell case, White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday did not directly respond to reporters' questions about the president's views on abortion regulations.

The White House "does not and cannot take a position on an ongoing trial," Carney said (Easley, "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 4/15).