In the past few days, some of my most conservative friends on Facebook have been ranting about the trial of Kermit Gosnell. Questioning why the case isn't being covered by the mainstream media. Wondering why more people aren't aware of who he is, what he is charged with, and all that.
I completely agree that the case needs more coverage, but I refuse to use this case as some argument against abortion in general. In fact, more than anything, it's an argument for accessible, safe, legal abortion.
Image Credit: ABC News
I have received a few requests from people to write about this, and while I realize that those requests are really just thinly veiled baiting attempts to try and stir the pot of abortion, I'm choosing to write about it anyway. Because it's my blog and I can.
As anyone who's read anything I have written for any length of time could tell you, I'm a liberal. Specifically, I am a liberal of the flaming, bleeding heart variety, or so I've been called on numerous occasions.
I am pro choice and have written about abortion many times in the past. I've written about the countless restrictions that have been placed on it around the nation in the last few years. I've written about the underhanded techniques employed to shut down clinics. I've written about the laws that make it difficult to obtain the earliest abortions. I've written about the state laws mandating providers have privileges at hospitals to administer abortions, and how every hospital denied those privileges.
Abortion is a contentious topic in this country. It always has been. It's also supposed to be settled law. And yet it isn't.
Some states seem determined to end it all together.
What they don't seem to realize is that whether abortion is legal or not, women will still have them. For as long as there have been unintended pregnancies, there have been terminations. In every time period of humanity, in every corner of the world, in every income level, age group and social status, women have had abortions. Erecting barriers to legal, safe abortions doesn't make them go away. It just forces them into back alleys and endangers the lives of women.
It forces them to see men like Kermit Gosnell in dirty clinics, to hand over whatever cash people like him demand. It puts them at risk for diseases, for complications, for death.
The women who saw Gosnell, at least from the interviews I have seen, went there because Planned Parenthood was always loaded with protesters. His clinic flew under the radar, and he would bend the rules if he had to in order to "take care of things".
What these women walked into was something out of a nightmare. Bloody chairs, contaminated and disease ridden used instruments. Most of them were heavily drugged so they weren't fully aware of what was happening. Some were there not voluntarily, but dragged there by family members.
He performed thousands of abortions a year, always received payment in cash. His employees weren't licensed in any field to perform the procedures they did. He fudged gestational ages to circumvent state law that cut off abortions at 24 weeks. Many of his patients ended up in emergency rooms with retained partial fetuses, with perforations, with infections. Some contracted diseases from the contaminated instruments. Some needed hysterectomies. Some died.
He's on trial for the death of one of those patients. He's also on trial for the murder of 7 newborns. It's alleged that he would deliver the babies at whatever gestational age they actually were, the 7 in the case all alleged to be well past the point of viability. Born alive, he cut their spinal cords with scissors to
ensure their demise.
It is horrific. Unimaginable. Criminal.
He's on trial because he broke the law.
He's on trial because he employed unlicensed employees.
He's on trial because he was performing abortions past the legal limit, delivering babies.
He's on trial because he was delivering those viable newborns, then killing them.
He's on trial because at least one of his patients died due to his actions.
He's on trial because he violated state laws pertaining to abortion.
He's on trial because he violated health codes and made women sick.
He's on trial for criminal acts.
He's not on trial because he is an abortion provider.
Up until 24 weeks, abortions are legal in Pennsylvania. Providers are supposed to refuse them past that point. Providers are supposed to be licensed. They are supposed to follow health codes. He didn't do any of those things.
He killed women. He killed babies.
And he made a ton of money doing it.
I can assure you that the vast majority of abortion providers in this country are shocked and appalled by what he is accused of. He does not represent the abortion provider community. He represents a last resort for desperate women who felt they had no other choice. He represents the absolute worst in humanity - a man that would take advantage of those women, seeing an opportunity to make a ton of money, quick and literally dirty.
Why wasn't he investigated for the health code violations?
Why wasn't he investigated for employing unlicensed employees?
Why weren't the hospitals the sick women ended up at reporting him?
Other details are coming out now that seem to say this was almost a sick hobby for the man, keeping fetal feet in jars on shelves and dead fetuses in the fridge with his lunch.
This man is a monster, of that it seems everyone can agree.
What he is not, however, is the face of abortion.
He is quite the opposite.
He is the exception. The extreme.
He's proof of the fact that we need to make it safe and accessible in early phases of pregnancy to save the lives of women and to avoid the horrors that happened on his watch.
He's proof of the fact that these providers need to be held to health codes and licensing standards.
He is proof of the fact that legal or not, hard to obtain or not, women will never stop having abortions. People like him will make sure of that.
Shortly after I originally posted this on my blog, I was contacted by a woman who had been a patient of his. She confirmed that the conditions were as bad, or worse than they have been described. Injured by this man, she almost died from complications. She had never told anyone until she read my post. She thanked me for being a voice for her and the women like her in a case where the focus seems to primarily be on the issue of abortion.
As a writer, I struggle sometimes with writing about issues like this one because there is so much backlash personally. Then someone like her reminds me.
She is why I do what I do.
Kelly DeBie ~ Blogger, Mom, Superhero
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