By now, the news is saturated with stories about Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who operated a clinic in a low-income Philadelphia neighborhood until its closure last year. It was here that Kermie (sorry, I can’t help myself) allegedly performed late-term “abortions” in the cruelest manner and in the crudest environment. (For details, you can view the Grand Jury Report here).
So much of the news has focused on the horrific depravity and gruesome details of Gosnell’s unlicensed procedures. But somehow, a key piece of information is missing: If he delivered live, breathing babies and then killed them, as is alleged, this is not abortion (thank you Feministing for correctly pointing this out). It is another matter entirely.
This conflation is very, very dangerous.
Also largely absent from mainstream discussions about Gosnell are the implications of his clinic, and ones like it, on the larger women’s health picture. The conditions Gosnell’s patients endured are representative of what will become commonplace in the face of extreme abortion restrictions. Making abortion inaccessible or illegal will not rid this country of its existence, as some would like to believe. Rather, when safe, legal services remain inaccessible for thousands of women, whether because of their age or financial resources, women will turn to clinics like Gosnell’s. Don’t kid yourselves otherwise.