Gosnell Case a Reminder of Why Restrictive Abortion Laws Must Be Overturned
The case against Kermit Gosnell in the state of Pennsylvania, USA is an important reminder that restrictive abortion laws open the door for people to prey on desperate women and lead to medical negligence. On Monday, Gosnell was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of manslaughter in relation to his illegal abortion clinic. What has come to light, both in the grand jury report in 2011 and media reports of the trial, is how Gosnell took advantage of Pennsylvania’s lax monitoring of abortion clinics to operate outside the confines of the law and safe medical practice to perform abortions on some of the most oppressed and desperate women.
The majority of his clients were women of colour and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds unable to afford an abortion at a safe, registered clinic. This highlights the racial and class element to the politics of abortion, which all to often means that the most marginalized in society are those most at risk of unsafe abortions when access and availability is restricted.
Echoing the sentiments of Ilsye G. Hogue, president NARAL Pro-Choice America, ALRANZ believes justice was served by the jury’s verdict against Gosnell. However, this should not be all that comes out of the Gosnell case. In a powerful statement, Hogue said:
“From the lack of funding available for low-income women to access abortion services, to the sharp decline of reputable providers in Pennsylvania, to the gross negligence of authorities to enforce the law after complaints were filed against Gosnell, each aspect of this case must be a teachable moment for lawmakers: until we reject the politicization of women’s medical care and leave these decisions where they belong—between a woman and her family and her doctor—women will never be safe. The horrifying story of Kermit Gosnell is a peek into the world before Roe v. Wade made legal a woman’s right to make her own choices”.
Countering the stories told by the anti-choice contingent, further restrictions on abortion will not lead to fewer Gosnell cases, but more. Looking to our own abortion laws in New Zealand and the continued criminalization of women, it is a stark reminder that safe and legal abortion cannot be assured until it is a choice made freely by the pregnant person with free and easy access to all reproductive health services.
For more information and analysis on the Gosnell case, see:
Ilyse Hogue of NARAL Pro-choice America’s full statement.
RH Reality Check:
“A Gosnell Amendment: Jennifer Rubin Plays Doctor and Legislator, and Fails” by Jodi Jacobson.
“Gosnell Found Guilty on Three First-Degree Murder Charges” by Jennifer Mason Pieklo.
“Separating Truth From Lies Around the Kermit Gosnell Case” by Amanda Marcotte
Salon: “Megan McCardle Doesn’t Understand the Kermit Gosnell Case” by Tara Murtha
I fully agree with you, Hermit Gosnell has received justice for his crimes against women and their pre-born children. The Crimes Act recognises that it is a crime to kill a defenceless unborn child. The Act also seeks to give protection to women. Could you please explain how women are being criminalised by our abortion laws? You are advocating for reduced restrictions. There are an estimated 200 million missing women in the world as a result of sex selection abortions. It is unlawful in New Zealand to have an abortion on the grounds that the child is the wrong sex. Having an abortion because the child is a female and not a male is probably not the choice of the mother but of the father
Do you believe that the sex of the child should be a women’s right to choose?
I’d like to know ALRANZ if it is your policy to refuse to allow comments that seek answers from your organisation?
For Right to Life NZ