The Spark

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

Poor Women Denied Right to Choose

Apr 29, 2013

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia physician, is on trial for murder for performing illegal late-term abortions. He is also on trial for the death of a woman who died after he performed an abortion on her.

Anti-abortion politicians and religious fundamentalists have been using this case in their campaign. But the Gosnell case shows something very different.

By all accounts, Dr. Gosnell’s clinic had a reputation for substandard care for many years. It was well known that the clinic was unsanitary and unsafe. But since Gosnell charged much less for an abortion than other clinics in the area, his service was what many poor women could afford. Gosnell also charged less for women who needed a more expensive, second-trimester procedure. Often these women couldn’t get an abortion earlier because they had a hard time coming up with the money. If it took even longer for them to find the money, Gosnell allegedly performed abortions on women who were beyond the legal time limit.

Gosnell is now on trial for murder in the case of 41-year-old Bhutanese refugee, Karnmaya Mongar. This case is a tragic illustration of what lack of money and delay can mean. Starting when she was about 15 weeks pregnant, Mongar had gone to several clinics near her Virginia home. The prices for an abortion were too high for her to afford, so she was turned down at these clinics. After another month of searching, when Mongar was in her 19th week, she arrived at Gosnell’s clinic. He agreed to perform the abortion for less money. But the day after the abortion, Monger suffered a Demerol overdose and died.

The key reason Kermit Gosnell and others like him have any patients is because the U.S. government has banned federal Medicaid payment for abortions. This ban, called the Hyde Amendment, was first enacted in 1976, and has been renewed every single year since 1976, by Democrats and Republicans alike.

As a cover for this ban, the politicians claim that they are pro-life or other nonsense. This ban pushes poor women to risk their lives seeking back alley abortions, from people like Gosnell.