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The Wrong Debate

May 14, 2013

Thanks Kermit.  Thanks a lot.  The abortion debate lives to rage another day.  Unless you’ve been on Jupiter you’ve probably heard that this guy named Kermit Gosnell, an “abortion doctor”, has been convicted of murder on multiple counts, including the murder of babies.  Now, while I am pro-choice, I think Gosnell was a charlatan, and if he’s guilty of all the things they’ve accused him of (now don’t sniff, the courts have been known to be wrong) words cannot express my disgust.  The problem I have with Gosnell is that he has fueled the fire of the wrong debate.  Each side of the abortion debate is going to use this to their advantage, with the edge probably going to the pro-lifers.  But the real issue is: why did those women find it necessary to go to him?

The media has said that Dr. Gosnell was serving a largely poor community.  We don’t know many more details about the patient population.  West Philadelphia is a largely black and latino community with a high crime rate.  One street corner is listed as 8th of the 10 top street corners for drug dealing in Philadelphia.  All this is true despite the presence of the University of Pennsylvania.  The women that went to Gosnell likely were desperate and had nowhere else to go.  The Affordable Care Act hasn’t reached west philly.  Actually, it sounds like basic health care hasn’t reached that area.  I don’t know if Gosnell was the only OBGyn in the area or the only one performing abortions.  The media can call something an “abortion clinic” when it could be a Gyn clinic that provides abortion as part of it’s services.  But if he was the only game in town, that’s a problem.  The absence of basic services for women like birth control (and yes, birth control is a basic service) and the availability of a clean health care facility is something we talk about in third world countries, not here.

The people in washington, who’s wives have excellent health care, can argue until the world ends about whether abortion is right or wrong.  Gosnell’s patients either knew or felt they had no other choice.   If they had had access to birth control and basic gynecological education they wouldn’t have been there.  If they had jobs and health insurance they wouldn’t have been there.  If they didn’t live in a culture of violence and drugs they wouldn’t have been there.  If they had access to a solid education they wouldn’t have been there.  If they were fortunate enough to be born or live elsewhere, they wouldn’t have been there.  If they had CHOICES, they wouldn’t have been there.

While I would never defend what Gosnell did, he may have felt he was doing a good service for this patients.  Maybe a woman was raped by her father and he wouldn’t let her come to a clinic until she was too far along.  Maybe a 13 year old girl got pregnant and was afraid to tell her parents until it was too obvious to hide.  Maybe this 13-year-old saw her 13-year-old friends with their babies and decided it she couldn’t do it.  Maybe she was being raised by her grandmother who was 80 and wouldn’t be able to care for a newborn.  Maybe she didn’t know how to contact adoption agencies, or even know where to find one.  Maybe Gosnell saw the world into which children were being born and decided to “help”.

This conviction should not spark a debate about abortion.  It should spark a debate about why we are failing our disadvantaged women.

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