We often envision a world of “back alley” abortions should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned, but the case in Philadelphia against Kermit Gosnell makes it clear: for women without resources, information and access to safe, reputable providers, the future is now.
Despite the horrific details, it comes as no surprise that previous complaints against his facility had gone uninvestigated by Pennsylvania health department officials, and that his patients were mostly poor, immigrant, and minority women. I can’t begin to understand someone who subject women in need to such treatment, but I am inclined to think that he was taking advantage of a climate that stigmatizes and alienates women seeking abortion services, and the doctors who want to provide these services in a safe and supportive environment.
I could never end up on Gosnell’s operating table because I am educated, informed, and insured. I would like to think that my friends and family members would also be spared such a fate, since they have (in me) a reliable and nonjudgmental source of information on safe abortion services and funding for such services.
Gosnell was an opportunist. His opportunity to prey on these women was made possible by those who have inflicted terror on well-trained, caring providers, driving some out of practice; those who have made it impossible for capable young doctors to find training in abortion services; and those who have instilled such stigma and shame around abortion that women can’t seek information from friends or family. As advocates for reproductive justice, we must all do our part to put the Gosnells of the world out of business.
Support abortion funds, which help low-income women pay for abortions from safe and reputable abortion providers. Let your pro-choice stance be known with a button or t-shirt: you never know who might turn to you for support. Stay informed about attacks on women’s right to choose: sign up for NWLC’s action alerts.