Attempts to Use Gosnell Case to Restrict Abortion Access Failing, But Antis Continue to Push

Targeted regulation of abortion provider (TRAP) bills were the restriction of choice for the 2013 legislative session, even before anti-choice activists began focusing every second of their time on the trial of Kermit Gosnell. North Dakota, Alabama, and Indiana are just a few of the states that proposed a variety of facility rebuilding and admitting privilege requirements before the murder trial began in March.

In the past few weeks, however, we’ve seen a number of new bills proposed by lawmakers hoping to use the public scrutiny of abortion care to their advantage. Members of the Minnesota house are proposing that clinics be licensed and inspected, requiring them to pay thousands of dollars in fees each year, despite not explaining how this would increase abortion safety of abortion or address unfounded accusations that the state’s waiting period is not being adhered to. The bill, which has been proposed and has failed before, is unlikely to be signed into law, but is a continuing piece of the deliberate anti-choice message equating all clinics and providers with Gosnell’s actions.

Another bill that would require abortion clinics to get hospital admitting privileges was blocked in South Carolina, despite state Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) arguing that without board certification and hospital privileges, a future Gosnell can’t be stopped. “It’s a fly by night kind of operation in some places. We don’t ever wanna see something in South Carolina like we saw in Pennsylvania,” South Carolina Senate candidate Richard Cash told ABC Columbia.

TRAP law requirements, such as licensing, refurbishing, and admitting privileges, don’t make abortion safer, but they can do the opposite, especially if the laws result in clinic closures or make abortions more expensive or difficult to access. TRAP laws have become such a danger that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has felt the need to weigh in to try and convince legislatures to cease with the unnecessary requirements.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) believes physicians who provide medical and surgical procedures, including abortion services, in their offices, clinics, or freestanding ambulatory care facilities should have a plan to ensure prompt emergency services if a complication occurs and should establish a mechanism for transferring patients who require emergency treatment. However, ACOG opposes legislation or other requirements that single out abortion services from other outpatient procedures. For example, ACOG opposes laws or other regulations that require abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. ACOG also opposes facility regulations that are more stringent for abortion than for other surgical procedures of similar low risk.

Still, lawmakers are eagerly trying to use these bills to block abortion access, all in the name of women’s safety, and they’ll characterize every clinic as a Gosnell-like horror if it will support their agenda. Anti-choice activists have made it their mission to make the charges against Gosnell about the entire abortion industry. “The Kermit Gosnell trial is not a unique situation. In fact, the Gosnell case explains why abortion clinics go to such great lengths to keep life advocates away from public property surrounding their facilities,” said representatives of leading anti-choice organizations, including the American Life League, the Susan B. Anthony List, Priests for Life, and Life News in a joint public statement. “Although only one abortionist is being prosecuted today, the entire abortion industry is on trial. … Let the history books be written that these are the last days of legalized abortion on demand.”

Reproductive rights advocates know that despite their badgering of the media and their push for unnecessary and burdensome clinic regulations, the attempt to use Gosnell’s trial to end legal abortion will ultimately fail. As sociologist Carole Joffe told NPR, “Those opposed to abortion are trying to make the argument that all abortion providers are like Gosnell, which, of course, is absurd.” Prohibitive regulations meant to close providers are what creates more Gosnells, not eliminates them.

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  • Sarah ES

    The anti-choice faction have some nerve. The Gosnell case shows why abortion should remain legal, not why it should be criminalized. Kermit Gosnell gives us a reminding glimpse of what all abortion was like before Roe, unless you were lucky enough to have a sympathetic doctor. This is what the anti-choicers want abortion to be. I’ve heard it from many of their mouths that they believe women who would “kill their babies” deserve such. You can’t tell me that this isn’t about woman-hating after comments like that.

    • Ella Warnock

      What they would really prefer is that all abortion providers were like Gosnell. They’ll rant and rail about the butchery at his clinic and how unsanitary and dangerous it was for his victims, but if you suggest that all clinics should be clean, safe, and well-regulated, then they start hollering “Well, it’s NOT safe for the BABY!” and it just unravels from there.

      Of course it doesn’t matter if it’s safe for women, because they don’t even exist as anything other than a host for fetuses. They say women shouldn’t be victimized by someone like Gosnell, then they oppose safer clinics for those very same women. I wonder who they think they’re fooling?

  • nettwench14

    For the ACOG this is too little, too late. Don’t they have a lobby which can make some noise about this? It’s bad enough that we let insurance company bureaucrats make medical decisions, much less politicians. It IS discriminatory to start making rules and regulations that apply just to women’s clinics. What will they do when personhood laws pass in North Dakota, and they will be criminalized just for prescribing birth control or fertility treatments? For the last year I have been asking where are the physicians while all these ridiculous laws are being passed. If they think these people are going to be reasonable and rational then they are being naive. It’s not just that they are practicing medicine without a license. Outpatient treatment is becoming the norm these days, for everything from cosmetic surgery to spinal surgery, because they are specialized and the overhead of a hospital is not necessary when a patient goes home the same day. Trying to prove that a routine procedure is more dangerous than any of these other things makes no sense. This statement from the ACOG just said very clearly these new regulations don’t make sense, and are not justified. It shows that the people who pass these laws they are lying when they say it’s about women’s health and well being. I guess that’s a start, but these people are drink with power and are religious zealots. It’s going to take more than that. I wonder if most physicians are really aware of how far it has gone. I’m sure plenty of women don’t know how far it has gone. People tend not to believe that extremists can win against common sense, but this is the result of years and years of planning and work by these people. They will use any means necessary to inject their religion into political decisions that affect millions of women, and lie about their reasons for doing so. It’s absolutely despicable. They are a big part of the reason that Gosnell was not discovered, because there is so much mayhem surrounding this issue. Anti-choice people have made the subject such a political minefield that regulators in Pennsylvania weren’t able to do their job, as the number of clinics being shut down in the state also exacerbated the problem.

    • HeilMary1

      The antis who openly despise women are trying to force clinics to waste their money on non-health-related architectural issues, while depriving patients of actually needed medicine and services. My abusive disfiguring anti-choice family pulled similar stunts on me — they tried to force disfigured me to waste all my meager income on head shrinks and disfiguring psychotropic pills so I’d have no money left for plastic surgeons and eventual dating. They were trying to run out my youth clock so I’d always be a broke, disfigured, aging virgin on acne-causing lithium “happy pills”.