20 January 2011

Weighing in on the Gosnell case

So we have a national news trifecta happening in Philadelphia lately. They've arrested and charged a very likely suspect in the Kensington serial killings; a 12-inch gas main blew up a couple of nights ago, killing a 19-year-old PGW employee; and a doctor providing late-term abortions, apparently some of them brutal and horrific "fourth-trimester" procedures, in a filthy, substandard clinic filled with jars of fetal parts and smelling of cat piss has been indicted and faces eight counts of murder.

I'm still reading the grand jury report (281-page PDF). In the meantime, please take a moment to read my friend Amie Newman's take on the situation at RH Reality Check:
When abortion is stigmatized, and access to care blocked for many women in this country, women are forced to turn to "providers" like Dr. Gosnell and his employees [who are also under indictment]. Dr. Gosnell and others like him are offered easy access, in essence, to desperate and vulnerable women simply seeking to end a pregnancy.

But when we stigmatize the decision to have an abortion and keep discussions of this safe, legal option closed, as well as keep abortion care out-of-reach financially or geographically, we are not only telling women not to speak of this issue. We are also telling women they don't deserve access to safe, legal care and that they won't get access to a safe, nurturing environment either.
When abortion is illegal, or too expensive, or too stigmatized, or too far away, women will still get abortions. Until all abortions are safe, legal, and free on demand, there will be doctors or other practitioners who will be happy to provide unsafe, illegal, and costly abortions to the women who need them.

Final note: it occurs to me that the clinic was shut down in a War on Drugs operation, not because of any investigation into Dr. Gosnell. (It was raided because they were going after fake oxy prescriptions.) Why is the War on Drugs more important than inspecting and investigating a women's medical clinic, or following up on complaints of serious medical malpractice?

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