Never A Clear Cut

Today in Phildelphia prosecutors announced they will seek the death penalty in a high profile abortion case.

The accused, Dr Kermit Gosnell, (who is either 69 or 70 according to various media sources), faces eight counts of murder. Seven babies and one 41 year old woman, who is beleived to have died as a result of the poor quality abortion he gave her.

Much of the coverage and comments on this story have centred on the accusations of how Dr Gosnell killed the 7 babies – who were all past the legal cut off date for abortions.

 

Reuters repored:

In its findings, the grand jury in the case said: “This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women.

“What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors,” it said in its 260-page findings last month.

“The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforating their wombs and bowels and on at least two occasions caused their deaths,” it said.

The picture painted in these reports is horrific, and CNN added more to the story.

Six other defendants face charges. All had some role at the Women’s Medical Society clinic, which was run by Gosnell and served mostly low-income minority women.

A grand jury investigation determined that health and licensing officials had received repeated reports about Gosnell’s practices for two decades, but taken no action — even after learning that women died during routine abortions.

Just so we are very clear this is not me writing an anti-abortion post. I am not making an announcements or judgements on the morality of the women who decided to have this procedure done. What I am angry about, what I am concerned about, is that this man was a doctor, in a position of extreme trust, who vulnerable and probably extremely frigthening women were looking to for medical care.

And he betrayed that expectation of care and that trust in a horrible way. And who were the women he damaged earlier going to report this too? American laws are becoming so extreme on abortion it means that shonky practitioners such as this Doctor get away with terrible  crimes because the women they are hurting have no way to report the crimes without being persecuted themselves.

An article about abortion is a whole other issue that I am not going to cover here, perhaps later. But I just feel that this should not just be about the late term babies – this should be about the women he hurt as well. The frightened women who went in for a dangerous procedure and were clearly treated in a horrible and illegal way and had no one to report it to. These are the dangers that we run into when we criminalize a medical service. People without training, or with training but no empathy or concern for the lives of the people they are treating, can take advantage of vulnerable people and that is a terrible crime.

How many women did this man cause the death of? How many more who died of internal complications that haven’t been reported out of shame or fear? How many injuries? How many permanently damaged wombs or damaged lives has he been responsible for?

And we will never find out, because we are treating this mans victims like criminals.

 

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