Written by Amanda Marcotte for RH Reality Check.
Kermit Gosnell, the sadistic monster who exploited lack of access to safe abortion care among poor and immigrant women to both torture women and kill actual babies, is finally on trial and anti-choicers are having a feeding frenzy. Unable to muster actual compassion for Gosnell’s victims, anti-choicers got right to work seeking ways to exploit his crimes to further reduce access to safe, legal abortion — and to create more Gosnells in the future. In order to achieve the goal of driving more women to monsters like Gosnell and away from safe, legal clinics, anti-choicers are telling more lies than usual. (Which hardly seemed possible, but once you wind them up, they can really get going.) I don’t usually feel comfortable speaking for pro-choicers as a whole, but in this case, I believe we’re all on the same page, so I thought I’d use this space to get the facts straight.
So here is a list of the facts about how pro-choicers are reacting to the Gosnell case. Anyone who denies these facts is lying, and you have to ask yourself why they feel the need to lie to make their case.
Pro-choicers condemn Kermit Gosnell and hope that he sees justice. When the story broke, there was a rush of feminist journalists who covered the case and the tone was universal condemnation and advice on how to prevent such crimes in the future. A quick search of RH Reality Check demonstrates that, and you can read other feminist takes around the internet. For people who aren’t trying to prop up lies to confuse the situation, this universal pro-choice condemnation of Gosnell was entirely predictable. Not only do we believe he is a murderer and likely a sadist, but we believe he exploited the desperation of low-income women who need abortions but struggle to afford quality care. We agree with the prosecutors who wrote that Gosnell “ran a criminal enterprise, motivated by greed.” As advocates of quality health care for women, we have tried, sadly in vain much of the time, to remind people who simple fixes, such as offering Medicaid coverage of abortion, could take the issue of cost off the table and make it easier for women not to resort to illegal operators who use unsanitary and sadistic methods, like Gosnell.
Pro-choicers are the ones trying to prevent future Gosnells. Gosnell made money exploiting desperate women, so the way to prevent future monsters like him is to make sure women aren’t desperate. Pro-choicers raise money for abortion funds, so more women can afford quality care. They set up volunteer-staffed help lines to get women through the process of seeing a reputable provider. They demand an end to the Hyde Amendment, so low-income women can use Medicaid to pay for quality providers. As pro-choice blogger PZ Myers wrote, Gosnell “could get by with criminally substandard treatment because our government has been actively destroying the ethical and competent competition.” We try to keep the ethical competition afloat to keep men like Gosnell from getting business. Which should not be conflated, as lying anti-choicers are doing, with trying to stop regulation. [cont’d.]