Kermit Gosnell, currently on trial for murder, appears to be a monster. There are no adjectives strong enough to describe the horrors that a grand jury says took place at the Women's Medical Society.
In recent weeks, anti-choice media figures have been agitating for more coverage of the Gosnell trial in the mainstream press, hoping to inject into public discourse the idea that all clinics performing abortions are the monstrous dens depicted in stark detail in the grand jury report.
I agree - the Gosnell trial does deserve more coverage. Not as a stain on abortion providers but as an indictment of the outcome if the anti-choice movement achieves its goals. Far from the practices of well-established medical facilities, the Women's Medical Society was the modern-day back alley, like those in the pre-Roe era where desperate women were butchered.
The Women's Medical Society's “real business,” the grand jury report explicitly states, “was not health; it was profit. There were two primary parts to the operation. By day it was a prescription mill; by night an abortion mill.”
To achieve his ends, “Gosnell's approach was simple: keep volume high, expenses low - and break the law. That was his competitive edge.”
Conservatives are making the argument that “the reason the media and pro-abortion politicians are ignoring Gosnell's trial is because Gosnell was an abortionist. Seven of his victims were killed after they had been aborted, and one died after she had aborted. Why would people who believe in legalized abortion want to shed negative light on bad things that happen during legalized abortions?”
But these were crimes, not “bad things that happened” within legal structures. What the grand jury established is that Gosnell preyed on poor women, performing illegal abortions in unsanitary conditions. Those on the right have spent ample pixels reciting all the abhorrent practice, but have failed to note the critical component - that the actions they cite are illegal.
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. But 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 the anti-choice movement seeks to close the last remaining clinics in North Dakota, Mississippi, Kansas, and Arkansas, the ultimate result of its action will be to drive women into the hands of more Kermit Gosnells.
The fact the right refuses to face is that, as the grand jury explicitly stated, “the real key to the business model, though, was this: Gosnell catered to the women who couldn't get abortions elsewhere.”
Those who will be taken advantage of are not the wealthy who can afford to travel to an alternative state where they can receive care, but the low-income who feel trapped by their circumstance. Remove legal and safe options, and women like the victims the right purports to be speaking for will turn to the Kermit Gosnells of the world. And it's the policies of the anti-choice movement that will drive them there.