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Observations Medicine and the Media

Media on trial for coverage of Philadelphia abortionist

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 18 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2520
  1. Edward Davies, US news and features editor
  1. edavies{at}

Edward Davies looks at whether the media silence over the case of Kermit Gosnell owes more to blunder or conspiracy

When the murder trial of Kermit Gosnell began on 18 March it caused a small media stir, but it has, since then, bubbled along under the radar of most of the mainstream press ( Until last week, that is.

Over the last few days the silence of the media has turned into outcry and introspection over why it was so quiet in the first place.

The case

Gosnell is a Philadelphia based abortionist currently standing trial for first and third degree murder, illegal prescribing, conspiracy, corruption, and illegal abortions, among other things.

The Grand Jury Report into the case makes for hugely uncomfortable reading right from the first paragraph: “This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy—and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, …

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