Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion provider, has been charged with eight counts of murder. It is important to note that he is charged with killing newborn babies, as well as a woman he overmedicated. Ironically, he was being investigated for dispensing illegal drug prescriptions, but when authorities visited his clinic, The Women’s Medical Society, they encountered what a witness described as “a house of horrors”, which then led to a yearlong investigation of the clinic. The end result was an almost 300-page grand-jury report .

What is most interesting is that this doctor’s main patients were low-income women of color and immigrant women. It does not sound like a stretch of the imagination to wonder if he’s been able to get away with his “torture chamber” for as long as he has because of the neighborhood he was in and the desperate nature of the women who came to him. This is not to imply that wealthy or middle-class women might not find themselves with a pregnancy they do not want to carry to term, just that they might have more options and probably would not rely on Dr. Gosnell.  According to District Attorney Seth Williams, when a more affluent or white woman had an appointment, she was brought to a cleaner, more presentable portion of the clinic than the patients of color or poor patients.

I am interested in this case not because I believe abortions are “wrong” or “bad,” but because of what the allegations (if proved true) show about who has access to quality and safe healthcare(including, but not limited to, abortions) and who does not. The issue here is that Dr. Gosnell was NOT performing the medically and legally sanctioned forms of abortion (up to the 3rd trimester), but in fact all Dr. Gosnell was doing was inducing premature labor, then killing the premature baby. In Roe v. Wade , the Supreme Court held that a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion up to the viability stage, which is medically determined at 24 weeks. It seems evident Dr. Gosnell was not doing first or second trimester abortions. While the trial will hopefully bring closure to a horrid situation, it exposes issues that hopefully the feminist and legal community of the 21st century can address-namely, reproductive violence, which is a threat to all women.

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