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Knowing What We Know and What We Do Not Know


Two things strike me about the Gosnell verdict.

First, while Gosnell was found guilty of first-degree murder for the deaths of three babies whose necks were snipped after they were born, he was not found guilty of third-degree murder for the death of Karnamaya Mongar, the woman who died after being given what one expert called an “outrageous” dose of Demerol and other drugs. There are obviously important differences: He presumably wasn’t trying to kill Mongar. But there is something emblematic here about the victimization of women in abortion that I find unsettling. For all the “war on women” rhetoric, here we have a man who, at least in the eyes of the jury, was criminally negligent in the treatment of a woman who had come to him for a procedure that is daily promoted as integral not only to women’s health but to women’s equality. To Gosnell, she was nothing more than a paying customer who could be billed for dose after dose of Demerol.

The second thing that strikes me is that most of us would never have known about Gosnell if the Drug Enforcement Administration had not followed up on a tip from an employee regarding Gosnell’s extracurricular drug dealing: He was the third largest prescriber of OxyContin in the state of Pennsylvania.

So when abortion advocates tell us that Kermit Gosnell was an aberration, and that this sort of thing is not happening in other “women’s health” clinics, you have to wonder: How on earth do they know that? Pennsylvania was not inspecting clinics; do you think New York is? How about California? There certainly won’t be any clinic inspections if Governor Cuomo passes his abortion-expansion act in New York, making access to abortion a fundamental right on a par with free speech and the right to vote.

Now, the folks at Planned Parenthood and other groups that allegedly advocate for the rights and well-being of women knew all about Gosnell. So maybe when they tell us there are no others, they mean they don’t know of any others. But then, they didn’t tell us last time.

Since we all agree that women should be safe and healthy, we should all agree, whatever we think about abortion, that abortion clinics should be regulated and inspected to insure the health and safety of women. Let’s start there.

— Greg Pfundstein is president of the Chiaroscuro Foundation.


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