Preventing the Next Kermit Gosnell

In response to the exponential rise of abortion restrictions and subsequent mass closure of healthcare facilities providing reproductive healthcare for poor and working-class women, abortion is going to the Supreme Court.

In Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, the justices will review two provisions of HB2, the Texas law that forced more than half the clinics in the state to close. In doing so, they will answer the question reproductive rights advocates have been asking for the last several years: If the Constitution protects the right to abortion, how can our courts uphold laws that close down safe abortion providers and thereby deny many women access to care?

Advocates for women’s health in Pennsylvania have a unique perspective on the case, because anti-choice lawmakers across the country have repeatedly justified HB2 and similar regulatory schemes by distorting the case of Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell is the infamous Philadelphia criminal arrested in 2010 and subsequently convicted of murder, involuntarily manslaughter, drug trafficking and a host of other crimes.

Today in Slate, Women’s Law Project senior staff attorney Sue Frietsche and staff attorney Tara Pfeifer, along with WLP board member, author and law professor David S. Cohen explain why abortion restrictions such as HB2 will not “prevent another Gosnell” and in fact, create opportunity for like-minded criminals.

From Slate:

There are three important reasons that Kermit Gosnell is not a justification for the law that, if fully enforced, will leave Texas with only nine or 10 abortion clinics—down from more than 40.

First, the story of Kermit Gosnell is not one of under-regulation, but rather of government failing to enforce already-existing laws that were more than sufficient to shut him down. When Gosnell was operating his criminal enterprise, Pennsylvania’s restrictions on abortion—which included physician-only provisions, a mandatory 24-hour delay, biased counseling, parental consent, gestational limits, broad public funding bans, exhaustive reporting requirements, burdensome facilities regulations, and detailed clinical care requirements—were among the nation’s toughest, and served as a template for other antiabortion legislatures across the country. And like all other states, Pennsylvania had criminal laws on the books that prohibited murder, manslaughter, conspiracy, fraud, and other crimes of which Gosnell was convicted.

Read the rest of the story here.

Read about the friend-of-the-court brief the Women’s Law Project filed to the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of 10 abortion providers in Pennsylvania here.

To request more information or an interview with an attorney at the Women’s Law Project, contact Tara Murtha at tmurtha@womenslawproject. 

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About womenslawproject

The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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