As the media begin to spotlight the murder trial of Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell, it's critical that they also examine the anti-choice policies that force women into what Demos senior fellow Bob Herbert called “the terrible alternatives” - alternatives that the right now hopes to make the face of abortion.
Gosnell has become a poster boy for media conservatives looking to make him the monstrous face of abortion, and while the procedures conducted by Gosnell as explained in a grand jury report are illegal and nothing short of monstrous, the report made clear that Gosnell's business model was to prey on women who had no access to legal abortions. Herbert and BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith emphasized this point on the April 15 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
HERBERT: What you want to do, though, is, if a woman is going to have an abortion, because abortion is legal in this country, then you want it to be accessible and safe. You want it to be done under sanitary conditions with qualified practitioners and that sort of thing.
One of the problems is that in so many parts of the country, it's just not available, and then women go to the terrible alternatives.
SMITH: There has certainly been a campaign on the right to make it, in lieu of being able to actually ban abortion, just to make it incredibly difficult to get. And this is obviously the downside of that, right, that people wind up going outside the law.
As the media examine how they should cover this case going forward, it's important to keep in mind that there has been, in fact, a lot of discussion of the atrocious actions alleged to have taken place at the Women's Medical Society in Philadelphia, largely by pro-choice advocates pointing out that the case illustrates the horrible alternatives that rise up in the absence of safe and legal abortion services.