Who Is to Blame for Kermit Gosnell?

Maybe you've heard:  what Kermit Gosnell did?  It's pro-lifers' fault.

Jezebel says

 "[Gosnell's] business was able to thrive because of limited access to reproductive choice, not because of reproductive choice itself." 

XOJane says

These patients had nowhere else to go for safe, compassionate, responsible abortion care, turning to Gosnell as a last resort.  [T]his clinic existed in the first place because of restrictions on abortion access, not because of the supposed inherent evils of abortion. If Gosnell’s patients had been given another choice, they would have taken it ...This situation happened because of a failure of the regulatory system. Not because abortion is bad.

And back in 2011, Amanda Marcotte wrote for Slate:

[T]he pro-choice community exerts quite a bit of effort trying to improve the quality of abortion care, even under the remarkable constraints on provision.  That shady abortion providers get patients at all is something we can safely blame the anti-choice movement for.

So, let's just answer these arguments one by one.


Women had to go to Gosnell because they had no other options.

There are 22 abortion clinics in Pennsylvania, many of them offering abortions up to 24 weeks. According to the grand jury investigation, Gosnell told investigators that  "10 to 20 percent of the fetuses [he aborted] were probably older than 24 weeks in gestation."  Those abortions were illegal.  But that means that 80 to 90 percent of the abortions he performed were on fetuses within the legal gestational age.  Most of what he was doing, if not how he was doing it, was legal, and available elsewhere in Pennsylvania.

There were plenty of other options for twenty-four whole weeks.  Women who went to Gosnell were there because of problems that no amount of "choice" could alleviate.


If more state and federal funds were available to abortion clinics, women wouldn't have to resort to non-state-regulated clinics like Gosnell's.

Well, what happens when Medicaid fund are made available to Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide abortions?  They routinely bilk the state.  Here is a story about Medicaid fraud by a clinic in Georgia; here is one about Medicaid Fraud by Planned Parenthood in Texas Here is a story about Medicaid fraud by Planned Parenthood in Iowa; and here is a story about Medicaid fraud by Planned Parenthood in Chicago, and another one in Washington state.  About 20 percent of Planned Parenthood affiliates are named in a new investigation that alleges more than $99 million in waste and fraud.  Maybe there would be more state and federal funds available for genuine health providers if Planned Parenthood and other serial fraudsters weren't pocketing it by the million.  Maybe states that try to cap the amount of money they pour into abortion just don't want to be taken for suckers.

Oh, and that first clinic in Georgia, where the abortionist was indicted for fraud?  It was housed in a building co-owned by, and profitable to, the wife of Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States--who did not see fit to disclose this information when he was confirmed.  


Pro-choicers have been making efforts to make abortion more safe and regulated.

And where can we find records of pro-choicers calling for more regulation and inspection of abortion clinics?  As of 1995, Pennsylvania clinics abruptly stopped being subject to regular inspection.  At all.  (In case you're wondering, this change was not the work of pro-lifers, and it was not contested by pro-choicers.)  If someone complained, the state of Pennsylvania was supposed to launch an investigation, but it didn't.  There were numerous reports of gross violations to numerous state boards and agencies, but the state did nothing in response -- not even when women died.

Well, we all know that government agencies are slow and inefficient.  How about associations of abortionists themselves?  Surely they'd have an interest in keeping abortion safe?  Well, an inspector from the National Abortion Federation personally went inside Gosnell's clinic, to evaluate his fitness for membership in the NAF.  The evaluator concluded that he was unfit.  According to the grand jury report

Despite his various efforts to fool her, the evaluator from NAF readily noted that records were not properly kept, that risks were not explained, that patients were not monitored, that equipment was not available, that anesthesia was misused. It was the worst abortion clinic she had ever inspected. Of course, she rejected Gosnell's application. She just never told anyone in authority about all the horrible, dangerous things she had seen. (pdf of grand jury report available in the link at the top of this story (pdf available in the link at the top of the story here)

All right, but that's just the Gosnell case.  What about regulation of abortionists in other areas, where there isn't such flagrant corruption?  Pro-choicers must be champing at the bit to improve and increase regulation and oversight of clinics, so this never happens again.  Right?

When 72 members of Congress voted to investigate Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards responded,

At a time when the American people want Congress to focus on creating jobs and preventing the looming budget cuts, it is ridiculous that some members of Congress are instead focused on launching baseless political attacks aimed at restricting women’s access to preventive health care.

Behold, the tender concern of the abortion industry.


Gosnell is by no means representative of abortion providers.  He is an aberration, a rarity.

Except for this place, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Chicago being sued for the wrongful death of their patient, 24-year-old Tonya Reaves

And this place, a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, where ambulances are called at a rate of one every two weeks

Or this place in Columbus, Ohio, where pro-life counselors outside the clinic drove dangerously injured post-abortive women to the emergency room -- twice.

Or this place, in Florida, with a long history of blood-crusted equipment and leaky oxygen tanks. (In this case, when Florida responded by trying to enact oversight rules on unregulated abortion clinics,  the Florida Abortion Council threatened to sue.)

Or this place, in Delaware, under investigation for horrifyingly unsanitary conditions. 


I could go on and on. The information is easy to find, if you want to find it. 

Remember, Pennsylvania stopped requiring inspection of abortion clinics in 1995. What do you suppose we'll find if more inspections are conducted? Will pro-choicers continue to blame pro-lifers, and call for more tax money to fund their industry, and insist that story after story after story of gross neglect and abuse are all somehow aberrations?  Will they insist the answer to all of these horrors is what it always is:  we need more abortions, and more abortions, and more abortions?

Of course they will.  But you know better.


CORRECTION:  I incorrectly stated that Eric Holder's wife owned a clinic in Delaware that was cited for unsanitary conditions.  In fact, she owned a clinic in Georgia whose abortionist was indicted on charges alleging Medicaid fraud.  I apologize for the error.  Corrected 10:00 AM EDT.  I have also updated this post to clarify that Eric Holder's wife co-owned the building which housed the Georgia abortion clinic.  Corrected 12:20 PM EDT.