Home/Rod Dreher/To Know Is To Be Responsible. So Let’s Not Know.

To Know Is To Be Responsible. So Let’s Not Know.

In response to that shocking undercover video of a Bronx abortion clinic worker telling a reluctant pregnant woman to just shut up with her questions and get on with the procedure, the Washington Post’s Melinda Henneberger, who is no conservative, writes some of the most powerful words about abortion that I’ve ever read in a mainstream US newspaper. She says that the truth is, “we” (who’s “we”? the media?) don’t really want to know if there are more abortion clinics like Kermit Gosnell’s house of horrors. Excerpts:

Other such criminal clinics have only made the news as local stories, while most mainstream abortion coverage details threats to abortion rights rather than to women themselves.

Even when a New York woman died after a third-trimester abortion performed in Maryland in February, the coverage questioned not the care that led to her death, but the breach of privacy she suffered when antiabortion activists publicized the case.

There is certainly no shortage of outraged attention to the “personhood” movement, which would define life from the moment of conception as worthy of protection under the law. I don’t know how such a law might be enforced without the kind of humiliating monitoring China used to uphold its one-child policy, and the proof that it’s opposed even by most Americans who consider themselves pro-life is that it can’t even pass in Mississippi.

But where’s the coverage of extreme views at the other end of the spectrum? Of, for instance, the jaw-dropping testimony of Planned Parenthood official Alisa LaPolt Snow?When asked by a Florida lawmaker what kind of medical care the organization thinks a child who somehow survives a late-term abortion should get, Snow suggested that even then, the child’s fate is a woman’s right to choose.

That’s how our president voted as an Illinois state senator, too, even after his stated concerns about the “born alive” bill were addressed. Though there is a lot of room for disagreement on when life does begin, most of us think viability is a pretty clear, bright line.

Not Planned Parenthood, though, which hasn’t disavowed anything Snow said. And not the Bronx counselor caught on tape, who warns the woman sitting in front of her that no matter what happens, she mustn’t go to the hospital, where if she were to give birth to a live child, that baby might be given medical care.


I continue to hope that someday, Americans will look back on the twin moral blind spots of infanticide and capital punishment – yes, even for terrorists – and wonder what we were thinking.

But part of the answer, surely, is that we’ve tried not to do a lot of thinking when doing so would prove uncomfortable. Part of the answer, I believe, is right there in what that Bronx clinic worker said to the undercover activist: “I don’t know why you want to know all this; just do it.”

I’m sure Melinda Henneberger will catch hell for this from the usual suspects. She should wear their scorn with honor. I’m proud of you, Melinda Henneberger.

Before we pro-lifers get too righteous about this, think about how many on our political side would prefer not to know about US government-directed torture done in our name. To know is to be responsible, so many of us would prefer not to know.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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