Gosnell and Abortion, Part 3 of 3

In the first post, I introduced the theme that pro-choice journalists are unconsciously avoiding directly covering the Gosnell case because it would cause cognitive dissonance and provided the first example: the Gosnell case would reveal just how liberal and out-of-touch the abortion status quo is in this country. In the second post I got to the heart of the issue: the extreme laws on abortion make it impossible to distinguish between abortion and infanticide, leading not just Gosnell but also pro-choice leaders (including President Obama) to openly call for infanticide. Gosnell’s problem: he followed through on the logic.

There’s one last myth that cannot survive the Gosnell story, and in some ways its the hardest for the pro-choice lobby to accept but also the most important to understanding the pro-life perspective. So here goes.

3. Abortion is not good for women 

As a commenter to my second post noted, the pro-choice lobby is trying to spin the Gosnell story and they are trying to spin it hard. The most egregious example of this is a completely astounding article from The Atlantic running with the headline: Kermit Gosnell and the Anti-Abortion Movement’s Intelligence Failure. The sub-title really says it all:

An anti-abortion group says it spent 20 years praying outside his clinic. Why didn’t any of the women tell them what was going on?

In other words: you pro-lifers were right outside the clinic. Why didn’t you do something? Here’s the problem with that accusation: the pro-life protesters might have been right outside, but the pre-eminent National Abortion Federation had already been inside the facility. Arguing that the pro-lifers should have known only highlights the fact that the pro-choicers did know. Not only did they come and inspect Gosnell’s facility (they denied him admittance into their group), but he worked part time at an NAF facility.

The Atlantic piece alleges that it was fear of pro-life protesters that drove women to the squalid and lethal house of horrors:

In a March piece for the Huffington Post, Kate Michelman, the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Carol E. Tracy, the executive director of the Women’s Law Project, wrote that one reason that poor minority women went to Kermit Gosnell’s house of horrors was that they were driven there by fear of anti-abortion protestors outside Planned Parenthood facilities in Philadelphia.

But there’s no reason to have to speculate that pro-lifers may have driven some women to Gosnell’s clinic because we already know how quite a few of the women ended up there: the NAF sent them. As RealChoice documents (citing the grand jury report):

The Grand Jury in the Kermit Gosnell case found that at least six young women and girls, including the mother of Baby Boy A, had never intended to end up in the hands of Dr. Gosnell They had sought out a member of the most reputable organization of abortion practitioners in the world: the National Abortion Federation (NAF).

For more on the Gosnell / NAF connection, Shannen Coffin reports that:

Gosnell worked one day a week at the now-defunct Atlantic Women’s Medical Services in Wilmington, Del., which was an NAF member. Many of the witnesses for the prosecution were employees of that NAF-member facility. The grand-jury report found that he routinely referred women who were too far along in their pregnancy to get an abortion under Delaware law to his West Philadelphia clinic, and the patients paid the NAF-member Delaware facility for the abortion services at the Philadelphia clinic. At least one of the abortions at issue in the indictment was started (given the need to induce labor, late-term abortions often take place over several days) at the Delaware NAF-certified facility and the unborn child was finished off at the Philadelphia clinic.

So, just to recap, not only did the pro-choice lobby fail miserably to stop Gosnell when they knew exactly how bad things were, not only did they allow him to work at their clinics and start abortions there that he finished at his own clinic, but on top of their egregious and callous disregard for the plight of the women they abandoned to that butcher, they have the audacity to complain that the pro-life protesters should have done more. The sad thing is that, inadvertently, the pro-choice lobby seems to be admitting in the end that the ones with genuine concern and compassion for women are not the pro-choice lobby who created and sheltered Gosnell, but the pro-lifers. (Check out  the first Friedersdorf piece again for a recap of the ways in which the pro-choice lobby protected Gosnell from audits, inspections, and investigations for years while his grisly reign continued unabated.)

It seems hard to believe that the pro-choice lobby would put abortion ahead of the welfare of women, but it’s not actually news. They’ve been doing it for years when they oppose common-sense regulations on abortion clinics, such as requiring the buildings to meet the same standards as surgical outpatient facilities or requiring abortionists to have admittance privileges with local hospitals for when something goes wrong. The ideal of total access to abortion has become so extreme that they have forgotten their own rhetoric, that abortion is supposed to be a means to feminist empowerment and not an end in itself. But that’s exactly what it has become. Partially this is due to the precarious position that Roe v Wade has put them in. Just as the abortioneers would rather silence a fellow abortionist’s plea for help in staying the course despite the trauma of daily homicide, the abortion movement generally believes that if poor and minority women have to deal with dangerous and substandard care to preserve maximum access to abortion for everyone: so be it. Necessary sacrifices, and all that. Partially it may also be due to the unresolved trauma some pro-choice women feel as a consequence of their own abortions. Different women react in different ways, but for many it leaves a scar that never heals, a wound that never fully closes.


The pro-choice movement has been locked into a precarious, volatile, and absolutist position ever since Roe v. Wade. Because they had their political victories handed by fiat rather than earned on the battleground of public opinion, a single supreme court opinion could undo all of the “progress” they ever made. Unlike civil rights, “abortion rights” was not a case of the SCOTUS successfully getting out ahead of an inevitable cultural shift. They gambled at social engineering, and they guessed horribly wrong, and now the pro-choice lobby has no choice but to defend their misbegotten political turf by hook and by crook.

The American people would not tolerate the reality of our current regime for a single day if it was presented to them plainly. The Gosnell case threatens, if not to pull the cover off the whole enterprise, to at least give a glimpse of what abortion in American is really about today.

And you know what? It’s not so much that pro-choice journalists can’t abide the thought of the American people taking a look at that, as it is that they can’t stand the possibility that they themselves might be forced to see the reality of their own political views. They aren’t hiding something they’ve seen from us; they have their hands covering their own eyes.

5 thoughts on “Gosnell and Abortion, Part 3 of 3”

  1. I recently read (and am now blanking on where) that when law affirms Truth, it resonates with society and doesn’t get (seriously) contested. Even if the the changing laws may have created turmoil initially, decades after the abolishment of slavery, our culture is at peace with this decision. We *know* it was right, deep down (with the exception of a few crazies who we all know are crazy). The reason abortion continues to be a hot-button issue decades after the ruling is because – like you said – the Supreme Court went out on a limb and were wrong resulting not just in turmoil between different “sides” of the debate, but internal turmoil among many.

  2. I think you’re absolutely right, Sarah. Abortion as a method of birth control is fundamentally incompatible with American values, but we’re locked into a high-stakes, absolutist battle because of Roe.

  3. “The sad thing is that, inadvertently, the pro-choice lobby seems to be admitting in the end that the ones with genuine concern and compassion for women are not the pro-choice lobby who created and sheltered Gosnell, but the pro-lifers.”


  4. I’m imagining the title of the Atlantic piece in response to the official complaints by the Pro-Life lobby about the conditions in Gosnell’s butchery that Atlantic apparently wishes had been sent. Something with “misogynist”, “extremist”, “fundamentalist”, “war on women”, or “total disregard for hard-earned human rights”. Maybe they’d find a way to use all of them in one really long, over-the-top title. And of course, sprinkled liberally throughout the article.

    Just the gall of it. To protect maniacs like this with legislation, to protect maniacs like this with funding, to protect maniacs like this with rhetoric and demagoguery, to go so far as to call publicly lambast people trying to have these places investigated as medically unsafe, and THEN, THEN, after all of that, to complain that THEY NEVER GOT THE PLACE INVESTIGATED! Those other people you criticize constantly, yeah, THEY DIDN’T DO ENOUGH TO OPPOSE YOUR EVERY EFFORT TO PROTECT GOSNELL.

    Gah! CAPS LOCK OF ANGRY DOOM is absolutely appropriate.

    “Be stunned and amazed,
    blind yourselves and be sightless;
    be drunk, but not from wine,
    stagger, but not from beer.
    The Lord has brought over you a deep sleep:
    He has sealed your eyes (the prophets);
    he has covered your heads (the seers).” – Isaiah 29:9,10

  5. Great series, great analysis. (Sorry no cogent, though-provoking response, just two thumbs up!) I think I wandered over here from T&S?….

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