Why We Need to Talk About the Horrifying Gosnell Abortion Trial
Gosnell is not your typical abortion provider; these brave, caring people are your typical abortion providers. Women were hurt by Gosnell because he broke the laws and they had nowhere else to go. This is what happens when states restrict access to abortion: women seek out illegal and dangerous options. In Pennsylvania, there are zero abortion clinics in the hundreds of miles between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. History proves that women will always find a way to access abortion when in need. Is this the type of experience we want them to have?
Kate Michelman, the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, puts it well in Huffington Post:
The answer is simple: Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, when abortion policy was established, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s primary goal was to overturn Roe v. Wade and, barring that, impose as many barriers as possible to limit access to abortion. By and large, our policymakers have never viewed abortion as a medical procedure - instead placing it under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code — and therefore have not nurtured a system of abortion care that is woman-focused, readily accessible, and responsive to their medical needs. The Commonwealth’s focus has been on denying access, not protecting the health and safety of women who need this medical care. If the charges against Gosnell prove true, Gosnell was an outlaw who repeatedly violated numerous laws and should have been shut down years ago, but the state did not hold him accountable to its own laws and policies.
Evidence suggests that a number of factors influenced a woman’s decision to seek care at Gosnell’s clinic: Medicaid’s refusal to provide insurance coverage for most abortions; the scarcity of abortion providers in Pennsylvania (and across the nation); the fear of violence perpetrated by protestors at clinics, and the right-wing culture that has so stigmatized abortion that many think it is still illegal 40 years after Roe v. Wade.
Gosnell patient Davida Johnson told the AP that she wanted to go to Planned Parenthood but the anti-abortion protesters there made her nervous. A friend suggested Gosnell instead.