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Why aren’t Americans paying attention to the Gosnell case?

…asks The Atlantic Friday.  I have a few ideas but I looked at the comments to see what readers believed the reason to be.  Many folks chalked up the lack of attention to the lack of media coverage, reasoning that most of us just aren’t familiar with the case as it hasn’t received as much attention as “the Benghazi witch hunt”, as one commenter put it.  Media coverage has something to do with it, I agree.  Mainstream America isn’t really interested in hearing about the horrible choices that a lack of comprehensive healthcare forces poor women, primarily poor women of color, to make.  We don’t care about that. And that’s one part of the reason why we are seemingly uninterested.

But I wonder if another, perhaps not larger reason but one just as important in my mind, for the lack of attention is that we are tired of hearing about the harming of or deaths of small children.  Yes, you might be quick to dismiss my theory as that of a hormonal new mother but even before I had my daughter, it was difficult for me to process cases where children had been hurt.  People wondered how I could work with survivors of domestic violence but while that work could be sad and frustrating at times, it involved dealing with adults.  I knew there would be no way that I could emotionally handle stories of child trauma. This is not just the new mom talking here.

Since my daughter was born, we’ve witnessed a mass shooting at a school, an assumedly safe place, in Newtown, CT where the victims were primarily children.  We’ve also seen children as victims both because they were killed but also because they inadvertently did the killing. And it’s not just about guns.  We hear of children dying in foster care, children killed due to domestic violence, children who are trafficked or prostituted. Everywhere we look it seems there is another story about children being killed or harmed.

And now this Gosnell case.  A brutal murderer of newborns.   This story is easy to ignore.  It’s so painful to consider that many of us are happy to close our eyes and look elsewhere, anywhere that isn’t quite so awful.  I think we are overwhelmed by the plight and pain that we hear of everyday -through every possible outlet from NPR to Facebook- that more often than not, we find ourselves shutting down and shutting out.  The murder of more babies is almost too much to bear.  Or perhaps it already is.

The Atlantic article can be found here.