Viva Voce
Somewhat Rambly at Times, Though...
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elle4life: (pretzel)
With the Kermit Gosnell case justifiably back in the news, there are a lot of people trying to claim that this is somehow an example of what happens when there is not enough abortion access. I covered this in my previous posts on Gosnell, but now that I'm not hanging out with people who make me breathlessly angry, I'm going to take another run at it. Because apparently this needs saying again.

Stuff people said

The following are various tweets that were posted during the #Gosnell tweetfest.

Why would ANYONE, think pro-choicers support #Gosnell in any way? This man is the reason FOR pro-choice movement, you dumbfuck motherfuckers ~ @SJVandelay

@Tripster2001 @irishtea1 @ppact @donnabrazile @mmfa if abortion were illegal, there would be far more like him. ~ @RobinMJTweeter

@notmeagian The policies you and @DLoesch support create an environment in which more Gosnells would spring up. Are you OK with that? ~ @AntonSirius

RT @JamilSmith: Conservs may be shocked when #Gosnell cov increases, &folks get that's what happens when abortion is illegal/inaccessible. ~ @MeggyVC

Kermit Gosnell Trial Is A 'Peek Into The World Before Roe v. Wade': NARAL President Ilyse Hogue http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/12/kermit-gosnell-ilyse-hogue_n_3071797.html … via @huffingtonpost ~@zoogram

It's disturbing to see antis feign outrage over Gosnell, when that's the standard of abortion care they want for ALL women. ~@AmandaMarcotte

#Gosnell is what happens when Planned Parenthood is de-funded and swarming with protesters. Don't try and kid yourselves, Conservatives. ~@emikegarcia

Prior to Roe v. Wade, as many as 5,000 American women died annually as a direct result of unsafe abortions #Gosnell ~@DavidOShelton

The trial on #Gosnell shows how the world still is against equal rights for women! ~ @mike_orson


So, clearly this is a thing.

Why this is wrong

Leaving aside the fact that every successful abortion results in at least one death and therefore no abortion is ever safe, the fact is, the argument isn't even logically coherent. And it's certainly not supported by the situation in Pennsylvania.

Abortion-friendly politics are directly responsible for stopping clinic inspections in PA

Until an abortion supportive governor was elected, abortion clinics in Philadelphia were regulated and inspected. Admittedly, fairly anemically, but it wasn't nothing. It was when Tom Ridge was elected, an abortion apologist, that the end of regulation and oversight came.

the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be “putting a barrier up to women” seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay.


That's from the report by the grand jury that indicted Gosnell, by the way.

So, it was not pro-life politics that enabled Gosnell, but pro-choice ones.

The abortion industry knew who Gosnell was and not only didn't stop him, but enabled him

According to the grand jury report, word got around that Gosnell was an unsafe practitioner.

As a result, Gosnell began to rely much more on referrals from other areas where abortions as late as 24 weeks are unavailable. More and more of his patients came from out of state and were late second-trimester patients. Many of them were well beyond 24 weeks. Gosnell was known as a doctor who would perform abortions at any stage, without regard for legal limits. His patients came from several states, including Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, as well as from Pennsylvania cities outside the Philadelphia area, such as Allentown. He also had many late-term Philadelphia patients because most other local clinics would not perform procedures past 20 weeks.


Now, before anyone starts carping on that "as late as 24 weeks are unavailable" line, allow me to point out that late-term abortions are also illegal in Pennsylvania. But laws are only as good as the people who enforce them. As is already established, the law in Pennsylvania was being unenforced, so lack-of-access is not a problem here. Other abortionists knew what he was doing, and not only didn't report him, but referred to him specifically because he was so out of control.

And the National Abortion Federation (NAF) knew who he was and also did nothing to report him. Gosnell submitted an application to join, the NAF sent an evaluator, the evaluator saw the conditions at 3801 Lancaster and the grand jury's conclusion after hearing the evaluator's testimony was this:

We understand that NAF’s goal is to assist clinics to comply with its standards, not to sanction them for deficiencies. Nevertheless, we have to question why an evaluator from NAF, whose stated mission is to ensure safe, legal, and acceptable abortion care, and to promote health and justice for women, did not report Gosnell to authorities.


So, it was abortion supportive politics that enabled Gosnell, abortionists who referred to him, and abortion evaluators that failed to report him. But the "not enough access" narrative falls apart even further when you look at the abortion apologetic movement writ large.

The pro-choice movement opposes clinic inspection and safety regulation at every possible turn

The Abortion Gang blog wrote a post the day after Gosnell's arrest complaining about potential regulation of abortion centers. They make the claim that regulating abortion centers, which perform surgeries, as you would a place that performs surgeries is somehow burdensome and unnecessary. Except that isn't true. Quoting again from the grand jury's findings.

The Health Care Facilities Act defines an Ambulatory Surgical Facility as:

A facility or portion thereof not located upon the premises of a hospital which provides specialty or multispecialty outpatient surgical treatment. Ambulatory surgical facility does not include individual or group practice offices of private physicians or dentists, unless such offices have a distinct part used solely for outpatient surgical treatment on a regular and organized basis. For the purposes of this provision, outpatient surgical treatment means surgical treatment to patients who do not require hospitalization, but who require constant medical supervision following the surgical procedure performed.

This is precisely what Gosnell’s clinic was – a facility that provided specialty outpatient surgical treatment. And, by definition, so are all freestanding abortion clinics (those not associated with hospitals).


Rachel Maddow also opposes regulation or oversight of abortion providers. As does Tarina Keene of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.



Nor do abortion supporters oppose killing children born alive after failed abortions

I will not dwell on Barack Obama, who voted four times against the Illinois version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. A good list of links to see the records of these votes from first-hand sources and roll calls is available here.

Instead, I want to highlight a recent session of the Florida legislature where Planned Parenthood opposed legislation guaranteeing a child's right to medical care, even if that child is born alive as the result of a failed abortion. The full session may be viewed here with the Planned Parenthood speaker beginning her portion at the 37: 40 mark. Here is a video of just the Q&A portion of her comments. What you will see is a Planned Parenthood representative arguing against a bill that would guarantee medical treatment to children born alive from a failed abortion. When the legislators ask her point blank what Planned Parenthood would want to have happen to a hypothetical "child on a table" struggling to live, at no point does she outright state that the child should be given medical treatment.



Simply put, what Gosnell was doing (killing children after they are born) is not something that is opposed by those who support abortion, at the very least in the leadership of the movement. While I know any number of "average" abortion apologists who would be horrified at the thought of killing a newborn, there is a sizable portion of the movement that is not.

Gosnell is not an outlier or an aberration

LeRoy Carhart killed a woman this year in a late-term abortion in Maryland. And this man is lionized by abortion apologists everywhere. Even though his Nebraska center is an absolute dump. And he gives patients the same 24 hour phone number that he uses for his horse show business.

But he's hardly the only example. John Eiland. Rapin Osathanondh. Romeo Ferrer. Steven Brigham. George Shepard. James Peters. Mark Schulberg. Planned Parenthood.

Kermit Gosnell is par for the course.

These sorts of news stories are not common in pro-life countries

Countries like Ireland, Poland, Chile and others are largely abortion free right now. If the theory that restricting abortion produces more Gosnells were true, we would be hearing more news along the Kermit Gosnell lines from these countries. But we aren't. It is only in places like the United States and Australia, where abortion is legal, that you find people like Gosnell, Carhart, and Brigham.

The inevitable conclusion

The principle we see at work in the Gosnell case is not the result of a lack of access. It is the result of far too much access, far too little oversight, and a deliberate attempt by the backers of abortion--professionally and politically--to prevent any oversight or regulation for any reason whatsoever. Anyone who tries to claim that more access would help does not live in the reality that includes Gosnell or is trying to sell something.

Now, here someone's probably going to say that I'm trying to sell something. And it's true that I am pro-life and want to end legal abortion period. But that doesn't make this particular claim--that increased access is the cause of, not the solution to, future Kermit Gosnells--wrong by default. I've included lots of links. Click them if you want to vet me.

So why does any of this matter?

I held a pretty libertarian position on abortion before the #gosnell case. The gruesome details force me to rethink that. ~@DustinHurst


It matters because when people learn how awful abortion is, it changes minds. Because the only difference between what Gosnell did illegally and what others do legally is a few inches. And the only reason you don't hear more about that is because we let people do this. Therefore it is essential that we keep getting the word out, keep talking about Gosnell, and keep writing about Gosnell. Because doing that can change minds and save lives.
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