Yesterday, CNN reported that Kermit Gosnell was sentenced to 30 additional years in prison for illegally distributing pills. You may remember this guy because major media ran headlines–and now are taking the opportunity to do so again–about this “abortion doctor’s” first-degree murder convictions for killing babies. Those headlines bug me because, for the record, this story isn’t–and never has been–about abortion. It’s about murder, and a particularly heinous kind of murder at that.
Yes, I know there are people who say abortion and murder are the same thing. I disagree, and it’s inarguable that there is a significant legal difference in the U.S. There are doctors who practice abortion legally and responsibly. But headlines like the ones I’m discussing are refusing to acknowledge these facts. These headline-writers are committing an ethical mistake when they continue reporting on this story as though it is about abortion. Media outlets are doing so because it generates readership. And, unfortunately, this fans the flames of a contentious issue that’s desperately important and that is also already hard enough to have a civil and responsible discussion about.