Kermit Gosnell proves the need for safe and legal abortion

If there were more legitimate abortion clinics in Gosnell's neighborhood, his alleged crimes might never have been committed. Photo: Kermit Gosnell

FLORIDA, May 8, 2013 — Much has been said about Kermit Gosnell and the horrendous crimes which he is accused of committing.

What few people have discussed, though, is how his Philadelphia clinic, ghoulishly dubbed the Women’s Health Society, was able to get away with its wrongdoings for so long. Since Gosnell’s trial received little media attention, most probably don’t know about what these wrongdoings are.

Jezebel writer Katie J.M. Baker notes that “standard practices allegedly included snipping the spines of live newborns with rusty equipment, storing feces in cat-food containers and fetus feet in jars, and overdosing patients, particularly those who were poor women of color.”

Most clinics around the country that provide abortion services are nothing like the one which Gosnell ran for over thirty years. Surely, he is the aberration, not the rule. However, many socially rightist pundits seem unfazed. They wanted a great deal of national media attention for Gosnell’s trial, and this did not come to pass.

As I mentioned last week, it is true that the left-leaning press, a description that surely fits most American news organizations, has paid little mind to Gosnell. How this could not be chalked up to bias is beyond me.

Casting that aside, does anyone honestly miss the sensationalism associated with high-profile trials? 

Even if leftist bias is to blame for Gosnell not being sensationalized in the front page from coast to coast, is this really so bad? Isn’t it better for the defense and prosecution to do their jobs without ten different pundits pretending to know what they’re talking about?

Irrespective of our views on abortion rights, we should all be glad that the Gosnell trial did not devolve into a media circus. Having the courtroom packed with journalists eager to write a lurid, headline-grabbing story is a bad idea if there ever was one.

Apparently, social rightists hoped Gosnell’s trial would help them sour public opinion about abortion rights. While Gosnell is far from the norm, I believe that many antiabortion activists anticipated his name would become associated with any and all pregnancy cessation procedures. 

Needless to say, such a thing would decimate popular support for abortion rights. It would also be the product of a logical fallacy; just because Gosnell’s clinic was a house of horrors doesn’t mean that every other one is. From my perspective, the antiabortion crowd wanted to manipulate emotions through the news, much in the same way that left-wingers have for generations.

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

The terrible story of Kermit Gosnell has many lessons, not the least of which pertains to basic human decency. Politics aside, one should ask if his clinic would have been allowed to skate for as long as it did if more abortion services were offered in its area. The law of supply and demand comes into play here. Obviously, a great deal of people near the former clinic wanted abortion services. 

If Gosnell was not in operation there, then it is likely that someone else would have been.

Had more clinics established themselves, Gosnell would have had a strong incentive to offer top-quality care with no ifs, ands, or buts. What good does sub-par service or breaking laws do when competition is right around the corner? Should the market have forced Gosnell to follow the rules, it is hard to understand why he wouldn’t have. 

This observation is probably going to generate some controversy. That is not its intention in the least. Who on Earth wants to hear about a place like the Women’s Medical Society ever again? While antiabortion activists assert that the best solution is criminalizing pregnancy termination, this would only lead society back to the days of dark alley abortions.

Like it or not, as long as there are unwanted pregnancies, there is going to be a clientele for abortion practices.

The most reasonable solution seems to be keeping abortion procedures legal under the condition that a viable fetus is not killed. Abortion clinics ought to face strict, though not discriminatory, regulations. Those performing abortions should also be held to a stringent code of ethics and standards. If this is done, then stories along the lines of Gosnell’s can only become a thing of the past.

Isn’t that what every sane voice should ask for? 

Far-left? Far-right? Get realRead more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto 


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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