Whenever I think about the mostly-black, impoverished women who subjected themselves to Philadelphia physician Kermit Gosnell’s seedy abortion procedures, I don’t think about Pennsylvania.
I think about Mississippi.
The Magnolia State is the nation’s poorest. Thirty-seven percent of its residents are black. Next to the District of Columbia, it has the highest percentage of black people of any state.
And it has only one abortion clinic.
Even that one clinic, Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization, based in Jackson, is hanging on by a thread. A state law, passed last year, was aimed at shutting it down by requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at hospitals; something that can be difficult to obtain if most of the hospitals are religiously affiliated and, as clinic owner Diane Derzis told the Associated Press, if those hospitals don’t want protesters outside.
A federal judge blocked the clinic’s closing until the fate of the law is decided. But if Mississippi is successful in shutting the doors of its sole legal provider, it could wind up creating an underground market for countless unsafe and illegal ones.
Illegal ones – like the ones who’ll exploit thousands of poor black women there who might seek an abortion, but who can’t afford a ride to another state.
Illegal ones – who’ll view desperate black women through the same opportunistic lens in which predatory lenders view poor black people who can’t get bank loans or access to lines of credit.
Illegal ones – who’ll treat poor, black women just like Gosnell did, except worse.
This week Gosnell, 72, was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing three babies who were born alive by severing their spines with scissors. He was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the overdose death of a patient; according to prosecutors, he heavily dosed up patients, most of whom were seeking unsafe, late term abortions, with painkillers.
Investigators described Gosnell’s clinic as a “house of horrors,” with furniture stained with blood, body parts and fetuses in jars, dirty instruments and foul smells. That’s almost as bad as the days when a fraudulent doctor would pull out a dirty knife and folding table to operate on poor women.
The main factor, according to news reports, that abetted Gosnell’s horrific, unlawful practices was the fact that Pennsylvania stopped regularly inspecting abortion clinics 17 years ago, and only resumed them in 2010.