The horror stories emanating from the trial of Pennsylvania abortionist Kermit Gosnell are enough to make the blood run cold.  

A former employee testified to hearing “alien” screams from a baby born during a botched abortion. Jury members viewed photographs of partially developed infants with gashes in their necks and severed spines. Dr. Sam P. Gulino, Philadelphia’s chief medical examiner, testified how he had examined the remains of 47 aborted babies taken from a freezer in the “clinic” by a law enforcement official. Some remains were stored in cat-food cans; severed feet sat on a shelf in plastic containers. 

As if that isn’t repellent enough, there’s Karnamaya Mongar, the woman who died from an overdose of a narcotic pain reliever while on the operating table; the filthy, uninspected conditions of the facility; and the 17-year lack of oversight by government officials or medical professionals. 

The details surfacing during the trial are stomach-turning, and they reveal a revolting, grisly death vault in the guise of a medical clinic. 

Despite its horrific content, the trial largely went unnoticed by the national mainstream media — the same media that works itself into a frenzy over adulterous generals and renegade celebrities — for the first five weeks of court proceedings. The power of social media, though, flexed its ever-growing muscles, and an uprising shone a light on the gaping hole in news coverage. On April 11, J.D. Mullane, a news columnist for PhillyBurbs.com, tweeted a photograph of empty media seats in the courtroom.  

Kirsten Powers, in a USA Today editorial the same day, charged the media with having forgotten the news that belongs on Page One. “You don’t have to oppose abortion rights to find late-term abortion abhorrent or to find the Gosnell trial eminently newsworthy,” Powers wrote. “This is not about being ‘pro-choice’ or ‘pro-life.’ It’s about basic human rights.” 

This and similar articles triggered a firestorm on social media. Pro-life groups jumped into the fray using the hash tag #gosnell that resulted in 168,000 tweets in a 12-hour span. 

Shamed into coverage, the mainstream media began to catch on. In a blog post April 15, The New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan said the Gosnell trial wasn’t on the “radar screen” of editors and reporters, but that it “should have been.” Columnist Melinda Henneberger made similar comments in the Washington Post. Whatever the reason for the oversight, it’s on the radar now, and that’s progress.  

Conversely, though, pro-abortion activists are claiming the case only solidifies the need for continued legal and accessible abortion for American women. Instead of being shocked by the realities that come with terminating pregnancy — especially at late stages of gestation — they’re rallying the troops. 

Their battle cry should be met with ours. With the horrors of the Gosnell trial explicitly on display and in the forefront of minds for what is sure to be a brief amount of time, it’s time for Catholics to stand even stronger in the fight. Join your state’s Catholic conference. Petition your state legislators to pass pro-life bills. Be visible, be vocal, both of which are possible while being respectful. And continue to pray.  

We can do better. We must do better. The lives so callously cut short in that Pennsylvania clinic demand it. 

For hope, we look to those who fight the good fight day in and day out. We look to the examples of all states that recently passed pro-life laws, including North Dakota, Arkansas and Virginia. And most of all we look to Jesus, the one who beckoned the little children to him while gently reminding us: “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Mt 19:14).

Editorial Board: Greg Erlandson, publisher; Msgr. Owen F. Campion, associate publisher; Beth McNamara, editorial director; Gretchen R. Crowe, editor; Sarah Hayes, executive editor