Mariners have been familiar with the Fresnel lens for nearly two centuries. It refracts light from a lighthouse to magnify the life-saving capacity of the illumination.
Now, we are seeing a new kind of lens we can call a "Gosnell lens," which refracts light in such a way that the object in view is not seen. It deflects all critical examination of what we plainly see in front of us. The Gosnell lens is named for Kermit Gosnell, who is on trial in Philadelphia for the murder of seven infants born alive and one mother. His alleged victims are all poor, mostly minority. Normally, this kind of trial—with plenty of gore—would be a major news story. After all, if it bleeds, it leads, right? Not this time.
Gosnell is an abortionist, and we have known for decades that when abortion is in the picture, all bets are off. The major news media are pro-abortion. Not just "pro-choice," but pro-abortion. They agree in the main with Lawrence Lader, who founded NARAL Pro-Choice America: "Abortion is central to everything in life and how we want to live it."
It's simple, really. Abortion is an integral part of women's reproductive health, which is an indispensable part of women's health. Planned Parenthood (or should it be "Barrenhood"?) and thousands of federally funded advocates ceaselessly tell us so. Further, as former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor informed us, access to abortion is essential to women's professional and political equality. Right or wrong, millions of men and women have come to "rely" on abortion, it is argued. That millions of men and women also came to rely on slavery does not persuade our robed masters on the Supreme Court today to find what is unjust is also unconstitutional.
So the media look first at Gosnell the abortionist and turn away. Abortion should be safe, legal and rare, Bill Clinton told us. Even if it isn't safe in Gosnell's abattoir, it's legal. Even if you could not slaughter animals in such a filthy place, it's a constitutionally protected right. And rare? It was "raining fetuses" in Gosnell's slaughterhouse.
Snip, snip. That was the sound of Gosnell and his assistants severing spinal cords of infants wretched enough to survive his first botched lethal assault on their lives. Snip, snip, as witnesses described killing infants who screamed, who were, in Gosnell's own sardonic words, "big enough to walk me to the bus."
It should be quite a trial. Gosnell the card. Gosnell the laugh riot. It's not just the media that has a Gosnell lens.
President Obama has always applied a Gosnell lens. He is justly horrified by the murder of 20 children and six adults at a school in Connecticut. He wants to take action now, Constitution or not.
But Obama views the killing of 33 unborn children every day in Connecticut for 40 years through his Gosnell lens. Their deaths are constitutionally protected choices. Their deaths do not count in the larger scheme of things.
The president has been a leader in the "right to an effective abortion" school of legal reasoning since his days in the Illinois state Senate. Under the same roof that housed Abraham Lincoln in debate, Obama distinguished himself mostly by voting "present" when controversial measures came before the state legislature.
Except where abortion was concerned. When too many infants were surviving abortions in a Chicago hospital called Christ, and being left to die in cold metal pans secreted in a soiled linen closet, a scandal loomed. Pro-lifers tried to pass an Infant Born Alive Protection Act for Illinois. Surely, we can all at least agree that a child born alive should have the protection of the law.
Surely not. Obama views all such questions through his Gosnell lens. Constitutional law professor that he is, he might even quote Chief Justice John Marshall in the landmark case of McCoullough v. Maryland: "Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the Constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, are constitutional."
The end in this case is an effective abortion, a dead baby. Obama sees this end as clearly legitimate. And since an infant born alive is a mere inconvenience, a failure of more efficacious abortion practice—such as tearing the unborn child limb from limb or poisoning its environment with digoxin—there is no need for any legal intervention.
As Sen. Barbara Boxer put it in her memorable Front Porch Doctrine during the U.S. Senate debate on partial-birth abortion: A child is only a person with legal rights when you bring it home, when it arrives safely on your front porch.
As unsightly or unsanitary as all this seems, the dead baby is what Roe v. Wade is all about. And rather than yield an inch on that, the president and his followers would rather see heaven and earth pass away.
Obama spoke out when Skip Gates was arrested in his own home. He spoke out when Trayvon Martin was killed. He has not been shy about inserting himself into ongoing investigations of criminal activity or police misconduct.
But President Obama has been preternaturally silent about the horror in the courtroom in Philadelphia. He has been mute. He says nothing. He sees nothing. Through his Gosnell lens, there is nothing to see. As his followers say, "Move on." And they turn this home of freedom into a charnel house.
Ken Blackwell is senior fellow, Family Empowerment at Family Research Council. This article appeared in WORLD Magazine on April 16.