“Pro-Lifers” Gave Us Kermit Gosnell

Republicans like Rep. Marsha Blackburn might want to be careful about invoking the name of notorious Pennsylvania butcher Dr. Kermit Gosnell as they push to restrict access to abortion.

Beside the fact that it defies logic — what Gosnell did was illegal, DUH, that’s why he was put on trial and is now in jail, dumbasses — a brief look at his practice shows his clientele was driven to him by the very anti-choice, anti-woman policies that the Marsha Blackburns of this country keep clamoring for.

I direct you to the BBC World Service, which today did an in-depth radio documentary on the Gosnell case, and which I recommend you hear, graphic details and all. I transcribed a few pertinent excerpts:

“It wasn’t the cleanest place … the rooms were small, it was dimly lit. It just didn’t seem like a kind of medical situation you would want to be in — unless you were desperate. Because the abortions weren’t expensive. He was cheap! So that brought people that couldn’t afford to go anywhere, but to him. And that’s why they would sit down in that lobby and that waiting area for hours at a time.”

A country which lacks a functioning healthcare system that serves the reproductive needs of poor women — women who are desperate — is asking for a Kermit Gosnell in every city. That is reality.

Margaret Davidson, whose cousin died after Gosnell perforated her uterus during an abortion, says he had a reputation. “He was known in the community for doing abortions, it didn’t matter what the gestation was. That you could get it done quickly, you could get it done cheaply, no questions asked.

If you are going to make women jump through medically unnecessary hoops like transvaginal ultrasounds and radically restrict the gestational date at which abortion is permitted — some states have gone to ludicrous lengths — then you are asking for a Kermit Gosnell in every city. That is reality.

He says Gosnell didn’t just treat women from West Philadelphia. “There was always a group of white women who came to the clinic for a lot of the same reasons. Some of them were poor and they needed an abortion and Dr. Gosnell was there. Others were suburban teenagers that got pregnant and their parents wanted them to get an abortion and Gosnell once again was there. So he developed a reputation, not just in Philadelphia but pretty much along the East Coast as the abortion doctor of last resort.

If you are going to restrict women’s access to affordable reproductive healthcare, including birth control and abortion services, then you are asking for a Kermit Gosnell in every city. That is reality.

In 2009, Karnamaya Mongar traveled up the East Coast to see Gosnell. Her story reveals just how shambolic Gosnell’s clinic was. Her family’s lawyer is Bernard Smalley.

“She was a political refugee from a country called Bhutan. She came with her husband, her two children, and her grandchild here to Northern Virginia, and found herself once she got here pregnant, and made her own decision not to carry through with the pregnancy.”

(Neal Razzell): So, explain how it is that a woman who wants an abortion in Virginia ends up getting it in Philadelphia?

“What we know is, abortion is legal in the state of Virginia. She attempted to go to a facility in Virginia and then later in D.C., and was told that they could not assist her.

(Neal Razzell): And in Washington D.C. they say the same thing?

“We can’t help you. But why don’t you go to Dr. Kermit Gosnell, we believe he can help you.”

One more time: if you are going to prevent women from having legal, safe abortions, a large number of them are going to seek out an unsafe alternative. And yes, you are asking for a Kermit Gosnell in every city in America. That is reality.

I have no idea what Virginia and D.C. clinics Karnamaya Mongar went to, or why she was denied services and sent to Gosnell. I have to wonder if she’d mistakenly gone to one of those Christian “crisis pregnancy centers” which routinely lie to their clients.

Kermit Gosnell is the inevitable result of these anti-choice policies. It’s not like we don’t have history to prove this is true. Prior to 1973, the country was filled with Kermit Gosnells, preying on the desperate and poor who were denied a choice.

How utterly, completely, positively predictable that following decades of chipping away at abortion rights, Kermit Gosnell has reappeared. If this horrifies you, Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black? Look in a mirror. You’re the ones responsible.

I have no doubt there will be another Kermit Gosnell making the headlines in years to come, too. Just you wait. The more you restrict access to affordable, safe abortion care, the more you are asking for the alternative. And women’s lives will be lost.

Not that you so-called “pro lifers” care. Apparently “life” ends at birth with these clowns.


Filed under abortion, reproductive rights

6 responses to ““Pro-Lifers” Gave Us Kermit Gosnell

  1. GregH

    Funny how some right wing nutjobs are opposed to gun regulation because “Regulation cannot work! Criminals will get guns anyway!” Yet they advocate outlawing abortion and use this monster Gosnell as a reason. Apparently the reasoning is something along the lines of “This guy was operating negligently and violating of the law, so we need to make any abortion clinic illegal.” Huh? Even though gun regulation “cannot work”, outlawing abortions “will work” and there will never be any back-alley, rusty-coat-hanger-wielding illegal abortionists. Yeah, right! Or perhaps the assumption is that women injured or killed while receiving an illegal abortion, like inhabitants of some poor, crime-ridden, predominately minority inner city neighborhoods, ARE JUST GETTING WHAT THEY DESERVE. It’s their fault for being poor (i.e., lazy) and black … or young, unmarried and pregnant (i.e., naughty, sexually active).

    • …women injured or killed while receiving an illegal abortion …. ARE JUST GETTING WHAT THEY DESERVE….

      That would be the modern pro-life position, yes.

      • GregH

        Soooo, are they outraged because Gosnell injured and killed women gettting abortions (which would technically be what they deserve, per above) or because Gosnell was performing abortions at all?

      • Well, his crimes were pretty outrageous, regardless of where you stand on the issue of choice. Hell, I’m outraged. But I think they’re trying to exploit this tragedy for their own political ends. And that’s just not working, because this case proves the exact OPPOSITE of what they’re trying to say. They’re saying, “No more Kermit Gosnells!” and if that’s the case, then stop putting up barriers to women trying to access safe and affordable abortion care. Then you won’t have these atrocities occurring.

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  3. The Philadelphia Weekly had a good wrap up of the case here:

    Despite what the right wing media want to pretend, there were “lefty” media who were covering this issue long before the “pro-life” crowd glommed onto it.

    I’ve had conversations with people in Philadelphia who were part of the pro-choice movement who knew Gosnell was acting illegally, yet the state did fanny adams about it.

    Anyway, the Philly Weekly article pretty much sums it up in its conclusion:

    “So which is a more likely explanation for mainstream national journalists who missed the Gosnell story until now: that a vast media conspiracy exists to condone an alleged murderer who kept severed fetal feet in jars for fun, or that mainstream national journalists function in an echo chamber, collectively obsessing over a single sensational story rather than responsibly covering all the topics that need covering?

    Notably, many of the journalists who have emerged from said echo chamber wondering what happened are white males. Perhaps if reproductive healthcare wasn’t embraced as a religious issue on the right and dismissed as a “women’s issue” on the left, it would have received more national coverage. Though abortion as a buzzword is considered a red-state-vs.-blue-state hot-button issue and, in fact, was considered one of the most important issues of the 2012 presidential campaign, what the Gosnell media case reveals is that abortion in reality—specifically, the reality of what poor women’s bodies must endure when safe access is not ensured—is neither a red nor blue issue. It’s pink.

    Either way, the newfound interest in the case—whether disingenuous or not—comes way too late for Pennsylvania women.”

    The problem is that it is ultimately the poor who will suffer from lack of family planning services as the rich can travel to places where it is still legal.