USA Today Editorial re Gosnell Verdict
Regardless of a woman’s income or where she lives, she deserves access to quality care.
The National Abortion Federation (NAF), along with the rest of the pro-choice community has unequivocally and repeatedly denounced the practices at Gosnell’s facility. Gosnell was a substandard provider who preyed on vulnerable women, and fortunately he will not be able to do so again. Although this case has made national headlines, the important thing to remember is that Gosnell’s practices are not representative of the quality abortion care available from the vast majority of abortion providers in the United States.
Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures provided in this country, due in large part to the skill and expertise of abortion providers who offer high-quality care. However, abortion and abortion providers are marginalized and politically demonized in our society. This stigma around abortion — combined with unnecessary restrictions on women’s access to care—helps create opportunities for substandard providers like Gosnell to prey on vulnerable women. Regardless of a woman’s income or where she lives, she deserves access to quality care.
Unfortunately, abortion opponents have used this rogue provider as an opportunity to call for more regulations on all providers in an attempt to further their goal of limiting women’s access to abortion care. But additional regulations are not necessary—abortion was already highly regulated in Pennsylvania, and no level of restrictions would have stopped Gosnell, as he blatantly chose to operate outside of established standards of care and the law. Additional restrictions do not make abortion safer; they just make it more difficult for women to access the safe, high-quality care they need.
Abortion opponents have also used the Gosnell case to mislead women about the safety of abortion. Abortion is highly regulated and has an outstanding safety record: fewer than 0.3% of abortion patients experience a complication that requires hospitalization. It’s important for women to know that Gosnell’s deplorable substandard practices are absolutely not the standard of care at abortion facilities throughout the country. Even the grand jury report in this case acknowledged the safety of abortion, and clearly distinguished between this one facility and the legitimate abortion providers in the state of Pennsylvania.
In addition to complying with state and federal regulations, many abortion providers are members of professional organizations like NAF. NAF members must complete a rigorous application process, including a site visit, and must comply with our Clinical Policy Guidelines, which set the standards for quality abortion care in North America. Women can be assured of receiving high-quality care at NAF member facilities.
We must not use the Gosnell case to further stigmatize or make generalizations about abortion providers and the quality of care available in the United States.