Two little boys died. One’s photograph appeared on the front pages of major American newspapers, along with the sad tale of his death by drowning. Images of the second boy appeared on a well-circulated online video, although he has hardly, if ever, made the network news in the last few months as his story unfolded. He died when his body was ripped apart by another human being.
Why hasn’t the second boy been given the same media spotlight? In a time when we idealize equality, how could two little boys’ deaths have been treated so unequally?
The American media have chosen to ignore the death of the second little boy because he was a victim of abortion, his death exposed by an undercover video recorded by the Center for Medical Progress, a group seeking to expose Planned Parenthood’s practice of selling aborted babies’ body parts.
The first boy, a toddler named Aylan Kurdi, drowned during the current “migration crisis” as he travelled with his family from the Middle East to Europe. His little body washed up on a Turkish beach. The second boy, whose name we will never know, was plopped into a glass pie dish after he was pulled from his mother’s body.
Both deaths are tragic. Both boys deserve to be mourned, and the situations that caused their deaths investigated.
A Dead Child! Major Crisis!
Since the CMP began releasing videos in July, with the newest up Tuesday, most mainstream American news outlets have barely reported on them, let alone devoted major front-page space to the story. A savvy news consumer can see that “attacking” (in this case, reporting on) Planned Parenthood’s actions would not be politically wise for networks and major newspapers. So the unborn baby featured in one of CMP’s videos goes mostly unnoticed, although not by pro-life and conservative news outlets.
Consider the tone of these headlines. “The little victim of a growing crisis” was the Washington Post’s headline above a large, color, front-page photo of Kurdi on September 3. “Image of a small, still boy brings a global crisis into focus” appeared in The New York Times on September 4. “Sight of a tiny victim stirs the world” also appeared in The New York Times, on September 3.
Do these headlines not demand that we pay attention, that we find some way to prevent more deaths like this from occurring? Was the little boy in CMP’s video not also “a little victim of a growing crisis”? Not according to the American media, despite the fact that a Planned Parenthood employee, incredibly, utters both “It’s a baby” and “Another boy!” while looking at his remains in the dish.
Those headlines could have easily been used to describe any image of a baby who dies during an abortion. The New York Times or Washington Post would never use such tender language to describe a victim of abortion. Because of those editorial choices, the average consumer will only hear about one tragedy—that of Kurdi.
How Dare Anyone Have Compassion on Dead Children
As CMP continued to release undercover videos that feature disturbing images of dead children, major news outlets not only did not feature these children’s images, they printed pieces with headlines like, “An ugly campaign of deception,” a staff editorial in The New York Times on July 22, 2015. “Fears about push to cut Planned Parenthood” appeared in The New York Times on September 2. “Give Planned Parenthood a hand, not a lashing” was a Washington Post headline on July 17.
Coverage of the oft-described Planned Parenthood “attack” or “scandal” (not “crisis”) is projected through a harsh lens, one of institutions and groups with vendettas and agendas, not of human compassion.
A brief look at the coverage of these two events reveals the extent to which the media will ignore one of the greatest crises of the twenty-first century—the routine killing of children who have not yet reached the age of birth. The death of a Syrian boy whose family attempted to find a better home where he could live, play, and smile illustrates something about human tragedy, but so does the murder and dismemberment of an American boy who didn’t even get the chance to breathe.