The Atlantic recently had a shocking and horrifying piece on the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell’s clinic performed illegal, unsanitary late-term abortions and the trial has received little media coverage.
I can speculate on why this is — I suspect, in many cases, because we’ve lost the ability to have nuance in any conversation on reproductive rights. The anti-choice groups are going to be quick to hold this up as the “extreme” pro-choice position and an example of what depravity the left wants.
Only this, this horror, is the last thing that pro-choice is. I am pro-choice precisely because I want to avoid ever reading articles about a so-called clinic where a 15-year-old administers anesthesia and where labor is induced and live, viable infants are killed.
Because here’s the reality: the women who went to this clinic were poor. They were largely minorities. And because of the pro-life influenced laws in this country, they had no way to access safe, legal reproductive health care.
The laws and hurdles that women must jump through to receive an abortion mean that abortion is mainly accessible to women of a certain class. Women who can afford to take multiple trips to the doctors, who have the money to pay for the procedure, who can figure out how to wind their way through the maze of restrictions and limitations imposed by politicians.
Other women, women without resources, are left out in the cold and in desperation may seek out clinics like this. Because this is what happens when you systematically attack reproductive health. This is what happens with inadequate sex education, unequal access to birth control and bureaucratic hurdles designed to prevent women from accessing abortion. It’s what happens when social safety nets are so weak that having a child may seem like a life sentence of poverty and struggle.
If we want to prevent stories like this, the answer isn’t to ban abortion. It’s to make safe, affordable abortion available. It’s to make birth control affordable and accessible to all women. It’s to provide comprehensive sex education. It’s to make sure that all parents can access affordable housing, provide adequate food and access affordable childcare.