Weekly Standard Uses Gosnell To Smear Choice Advocate Wendy Davis

The Weekly Standard attacked Texas state senator Wendy Davis for not responding to the right-wing magazine's attempt to link legal abortion to convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell, continuing the right-wing media's attempt to use the case to smear women's health and choice advocates.

In an August 5 post, the Weekly Standard wrote about a recent appearance at the National Press Club in which Davis spoke about her successful filibuster of a Texas anti-choice bill. The Standard asked Davis at the event whether there was a distinction between the actions of convicted Philadelphia murderer Kermit Gosnell and “legal late-term abortions” at 23 weeks."  Davis responded “I don't know what happened in the Gosnell case” and went on to describe the effects that the Texas bill would have on reproductive access. The Standard attacked Davis, writing that she “has become a champion for pro-choice activists, but during her recent whirlwind national media tour, she never commented on late-term abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of murder in May for killing infants moments after they were born.”

The restrictive bill that Davis has been fighting limits access to legal abortions and has nothing to do with Gosnell, whose acts were already illegal. The bill would limit reproductive access in the state by closing an estimated 90% of legal abortion facilities in Texas by imposing requirements that could only be met by five existing centers, according to the AP:

The first requirement of the bill is for all abortions to take place in surgical centers, facilities designed to cope with major surgeries that could lead to life-threatening complications. The majority of abortions are not surgical procedures, and 37 of the state's 42 abortion clinics don't meet that new standard, so many would need to relocate and spend millions of dollars to reach it.

Those five remaining clinics are in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and two in Houston. A woman living along the Mexico border or in West Texas would have to drive hundreds of miles to obtain an abortion if the law passes.

Despite the Weekly Standard's attempt to equate legal abortion with Gosnell's crimes, Gosnell operated outside the law by preying on women who did not have access to legal services. As reproductive health professor at the University of California, Tracy Wietz explained, the Gosnell case had “nothing to do with the way in which the standard of care and later abortion procedures are performed in the United States.” Similarly, while discussing the Gosnell case on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Demos senior fellow Bob Herbert noted that “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.”

The same case has been made repeatedly by pro-choice organizations who strongly condemned the actions of Gosnell. During the case, ABC News quoted Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, who pointed out that Gosnell thrived in an environment of limited access to care:

“Unfortunately, you do have rogue providers that prey on the most vulnerable of women,” said Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, “and regardless of a woman's income level they deserve access to high quality care.”


“Gosnell is an extreme outlier when it comes to medical practice or abiding by the law,” she added, noting that both the NAF and Planned Parenthood, along with other pro-choice groups, have condemned Gosnell's practices.