Media Silence on Gosnell? Let’s Talk About the Women of Color Without Decent Health Care
Some reporters and media critics have claimed that not enough is being written about the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, an illegal abortion provider who operated far outside the bounds of legitimate medical practice. In a recent column for USA Today, for example, Kirsten Powers claimed that the case is not receiving the attention that it deserves.
As a resident of Philadelphia and an abortion provider, I beg to differ. Gosnell's atrocities have been covered widely. But what haven't been covered as much as they should be are the reasons why the women who turned to Gosnell for abortion care were disproportionately low-income women of color who felt they had no other place to turn.
Whether you are a supporter or opponent of women's health rights, or just interested in things related to reproductive justice, you should know that the Gosnell case has been written about steadily since February 2010, when Gosnell's clinic was raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration and his license was suspended. The story was widely covered in the national mainstream media and by women's health advocates in 2011 when the case's Grand Jury report came out. So while the trial is news, there is little to no information that has not already been reported about Gosnell up to this point.
Indeed, when Google renders about 9,000 hits in 0.15 sec using the search term "Kermit Gosnell," it's hard to say this story lacks attention.
But this case is about more than just a practitioner who did bad things. His case embodies the "off-the-grid" abortions we can expect to see in states like Mississippi and North Dakota, where anti-choice harassment and regulations purposefully pass to close all clinics providing legal, safe abortion care mean only one clinic is left in each state, and even those are under threat of being shut down.