The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Stop Back Alley Abortions
– and All Those Who Opened the Door for Them

Jan 24, 2011

The Philadelphia District Attorney charged Dr. Kermit Gosnell with the murder of one of his patients and numerous other crimes. One of Gosnell’s patients, 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, died of an overdose of anesthesia.

According to the prosecutor, Gosnell’s clinic performed abortions using unsanitary instruments, in filthy rooms, some with litter boxes and animals present during operations, and allowed unlicensed employees, including a high school student, to conduct operations and administer anesthesia. Gosnell may be a doctor, but he does not have the medical training required to perform abortions. He is not an obstetrician or gynecologist. Moreover, says the prosecutor, Gosnell’s wife, who has no medical license, performed abortions at the clinic.

Butchers who prey on women should be stopped. But if these charges are true, why did the state do nothing for two decades, during which state agencies had received complaints about dangerous practices and deaths of other women at Gosnell’s clinic?

More importantly, why has the state refused to prosecute all those whose actions drive desperate women into the arms of back-alley abortionists – all those licensed hospitals that refuse to perform abortions and all those right-wing fanatics, who harass doctors who perform abortions?

What about stopping the politicians who make abortion a political football? The Republicans, fresh off their election victories, are threatening women’s access to abortion as a way to play to a small reactionary base to keep their support. The Democrats, while pretending to support women’s right to an abortion, not only do little to defend them, but act to restrict them, as the Obama administration did last year.

Back-alley abortionists are the product of decades of restrictions on women’s right to abortion. The responsibility for women’s deaths and disfigurement in botched procedures rests on the heads of politicians who play politics with women’s lives.