The arrest of so-called abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell on murder charges this week reads like a victory for humankind. Yes, an alleged murderer is in jail! Yes, justice is being served! But make no mistake, this is no victory for women.
Gosnell was, by all accounts, a very bad doctor. He failed to follow Pennsylvania law. He had no training in obstetrics or gynecology and yet passed himself off to women as a resource for abortions. He "treated" women in an office that smelled of cat pee and lacked basic sanitation.
Hence, Gosnell is a bad man. It's perfectly justifiable for the court system to prosecute him on the allegations that women died in his office because of piss poor medical care. It's justifiable too to charge him with murder for allegedly inducing labor, then killing the live babies with scissors. That wasn't abortion. Abortion does not take the life of a child who has entered this world. There is a very clear line, and Gosnell crossed it.
But it's that line that separates this story from that of your average "abortion doctor." In the incidents for which he's being charged, Gosnell was not acting as an "abortionist." He was just a bad doctor who failed to provide women with appropriate care, the care he claimed he had the ability to mete out. He was a huckster, a trickster, a stain on the medical community.
He was, in fact, a family physician who misrepresented himself to poor women in a low-income area, women who wanted -- perhaps needed -- late-term abortions. The pro-life crowd has crowed at the chance to decry an "abortion doctor" for his despicable acts. A disturbing report detailing the horrors in Gosnell's office has given them a foothold, and they're digging in to climb their way up the ladder of women's reproductive rights, only to stand at the top and grin as it crumbles below them.
They have rhetoric and a deplorable story of medical malpractice on their side, disturbing images that allow for the knee jerk response they need to incite anger and outrage. What they don't have on their side are facts.
Fact: Kermit Gosnell was not acting as an "abortion doctor" when he allegedly killed living, breathing babies. He was acting as a murderer.
Fact: Kermit Gosnell had no training for the procedures he was doing, and it was his lack of ability to provide promised services that allegedly killed grown women, not the abortions themselves.
The outcry over Kermit Gosnell is justified. But to treat this as an abortion issue is to treat women like they're stupid. We know what he did. And it wasn't abortions.
Image via Phil_Parker/Flickr