Fox Gosnell Special Promises To Equate Legal Abortions With Grotesque Crimes

Fox News editor-at-large Peter Boyer previewed the network's special on the Kermit Gosnell murder trial by falsely claiming the trial illustrates “what abortion is,” and that Gosnell's alleged crimes were the natural response to Roe v. Wade.

Gosnell is currently facing eight counts of murder for horrific acts committed under the guise of women's health at a clinic he operated in Philadelphia, PA. Since early April, right-wing media have criticized the media's perceived lack of coverage of the trial, and a new Fox documentary on the case is scheduled to air May 3.

In an advance interview with, Boyer previewed Fox's upcoming Gosnell documentary, claiming that “though abortion itself is not on trial--it ends up being that it really is,” and suggested that "Roe v. Wade created a specialized niche in the marketplace and Gosnell filled that niche in an urban, minority community."

However, as Media Matters previously noted, Gosnell's alleged actions bear no resemblance to legal abortion procedures, which is why he faces criminal charges. The grand jury in Gosnell's case noted that “Gosnell's approach was simple: keep volume high, expenses low - and break the law. That was his competitive edge.” The grand jury report elaborated:

Pennsylvania, like other states, permits legal abortion within a regulatory framework. Physicians must, for example, provide counseling about the nature of the procedure. Minors must have parental or judicial consent. All women must wait 24 hours after first visiting the facility, in order to fully consider their decision. Gosnell's compliance with such requirements was casual at best. At the Women's Medical Society, the only question that really mattered was whether you had the cash. Too young? No problem. Didn't want to wait? Gosnell provided same-day service.

As University of California reproductive health professor Dr. Tracy Weitz pointed out, the procedures Gosnell is accused of performing have “nothing to do with the way in which the standard of care and later abortion procedures are performed in the United States,” and that his actions are “nowhere in the medical literature.”

Abortion procedures in the U.S. are highly regulated for safety. Women face fewer complications during legal abortion procedures than during childbirth: just 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions compared to 8.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the vast majority of states prohibit abortions after a fetus reaches “viability,” typically between 20 to 24 weeks, except primarily in cases when the procedure is “necessary to protect the woman's life or health.” Such procedures make up just 1 percent of abortions in the United States.

Though Boyer blamed the legalization of abortion for creating the “niche” that Gosnell's clinic exploited, research has shown that laws promoted by anti-abortion activists that raise access barriers to abortion push women toward such unsafe and unlawful operations as Gosnell's. According to the American Journal of Public Health:

Several studies indicate that the factors causing women to delay abortions until the second trimester include cost and access barriers, late detection of pregnancy, and difficulty deciding whether to continue the pregnancy. In part because of their increased vulnerability to these barriers, low-income women and women of color are more likely than are other women to have second-trimester abortions.

The grand jury in Gosnell's case stated: “Gosnell catered to the women who couldn't get abortions elsewhere.” And as Salon's Irin Carmon noted, “The abortion rate is higher in countries where it's illegal, and around 47,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions in clinics that likely look a lot like Gosnell's.”

Pro-choice activists have publicly condemned Gosnell. A Planned Parenthood official called the actions committed at his clinic “horrifying and outrageous,” and NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue said:

So let me be loud and clear: Kermit Gosnell is a dangerous predator. He wouldn't exist, couldn't exist, without the work of Rep. Duffy and his friends in the anti-choice movement. Opponents of women's rights have hounded safe, legal health providers halfway out of business and blocked women's access to the quality care they need.