Scott Lemieux has a good piece at the American Prospect today, summing up the reasons why the right wing’s huge fake outrage over Kermit Gosnell is hypocritical and deceptive, and why the case demonstrates the exact opposite of the right wing’s hysterical narrative: Five Lessons From the Gosnell Abortion-Clinic Controversy.
Far from being an argument against abortion, Kermit Gosnell’s atrocities are an object example of the incredible harm being done to women’s rights by the anti-choice movement. If the social conservative agenda prevails, we will see many more back alley abortionists like Gosnell flourishing in the brave new right wing world.
The Gosnell case is an illustration of a deeper problem with abortion politics in the United States. A number of pundits—most notably Slate’s William Saletan and The Daily Beast’s Megan McArdle—have argued that even though it’s best that abortion remain formally legal, pro-choicers should concede that abortion is an icky, immoral procedure that should be discouraged. But the stigmatization of abortion, as it functions in the United States, greatly harms women. In most other liberal democracies, the Gosnell clinic wouldn’t be an issue because even poor women could obtain safe abortions in a public hospital. In the United States, even where abortion is legal the constant stigma attached to the procedure—up to and including acts of violence against abortion providers and clinics—contributes to a making safe abortions less accessible. The best way to prevent future Gosnells is to treat pre-viability abortions like the ordinary, safe medical procedures they in fact are, not to engage in sexist moralizing.
The Gosnell case certainly represents a failure by the state of Pennsylvania to protect women. Enacting more regulations that make safe, pre-viability abortions more scarce would be precisely the wrong lesson to take from it, and would mean more Gosnells, not fewer. Making abortion safe, legal, and accessible for all women is more important than ever.