in Philadelphia, a doctor was charged with eight counts
of murder, including the death of a woman in a botched abortion,
and seven babies that were born alive, according to the
D.A.’s office. Dr.
Kermit Gosnell, 69, his wife and eight others allegedly turned their clinic,
the innocuously-sounding Women’s Medical Society into “a
house of horrors” that performed “botched and illegal abortions.”
in the West Philly facility were purportedly filled with
fetal body parts, and the office reeked of cat excrement.
Be forewarned that the 281-page grand
jury report is not for the faint of heart.
Typically, the women who went to Dr. Gosnell’s office were
women of color, some immigrants, and poor. They had no
other choice. And the heinous criminal acts Dr. Gosnell
is accused of committing really amount to the proverbial
and anecdotal “back-alley” abortions women often faced before
Roe v. Wade was decided 38 years ago. Anti-choice
proponents will use such opportunities to double down against
a woman’s right to choose. They will even invoke slavery
and civil rights when discussing abortion. In reality,
the problem is that women need more access, not more restricted
access, to safe, quality reproductive services. And the
Christian Right cares little, if at all, about women’s or
“Abortion is a legal common routine medical procedure. Yet
for 25 years, the state of PA has banned Medicaid funding
for abortion,” said Susan Schewel, Executive Director of
Medical Fund. The group raises money to provide abortions to women who
have chosen to have one but cannot afford it. Schewel believes
the answer is not singling abortion providers for new regulations,
but public funding for the procedure. “Abortion is the
only routine medical procedure not covered by Medicaid.
This prohibition on Medicaid payment for abortion leaves
desperate women vulnerable to sub-standard providers,” Schewel
The Women’s Medical Fund took a look at its own records,
at the women they helped in that West Philadelphia neighborhood
over an eight week period in 2010. These were six women
with an average monthly income of $503. Four of whom were
on Medicaid, and two of whom were uninsured. And two were
unemployed. One was a rape victim, while another was a
domestic abuse victim with a protective order. Five were
mothers, including a homeless woman.
Meanwhile, the ultra-right tends to grandstand and demagogue
on the matter of a woman’s right to choose. Former Senator
Rick Santorum (R-PA) - who could not hold his Senate seat
yet is planning a 2012 presidential run - recently told
CNS News that it is “remarkable
for a black man” like President Obama to support abortion rights.
After all, who is more qualified to speak on what black
men should or should not think than Mr. Santorum? “For
decades certain human beings were wrongly treated as property
and denied liberty in America because they were not considered
persons under the constitution,” Santorum said. “Today other
human beings, the unborn of all races, are also wrongly
treated as property and denied the right to life for the
same reason; because they are not considered persons under
the constitution. I am disappointed that President Obama,
who rightfully fights for civil rights, refuses to recognize
the civil rights of the unborn in this country.” It is
a common strategy of abortion foes to compare abortion to
slavery, even a “black holocaust,” and create a false moral
equivalency between abortion and the civil rights violations
against African-American slaves.
Meanwhile, theocratic GOP members of Congress are proposing
the crudely worded “The
No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” Current law allows for federal funding of abortions only in the case of rape
or incest. If enacted, the new legislation would limit
this exemption to victims of “forcible rape.” Victims of
statutory rape and incest victims over 18 would be on their
own, presumably because they “asked for it,” as the cold-blooded
callousness of the bill suggests. This is what happens
when Taliban are allowed to write the laws. Chances are
that it won’t reach the President’s desk. But the bill
leaves a distinct chill in the air.
I dare say that conservatives such as Santorum just don’t
like black people or civil rights. As a senator, he received
a 25 percent rating from the ACLU,
indicating a strong anti-civil rights record. Santorum
also received a 27 percent rating from the National
Education Association, as someone who is against public schools. And he said as much himself: “Mass education is really the
aberration,” adding that “It's amazing that so many kids
turn out to be normal considering the weird socialization
they get in public schools.”
In addition, Santorum earned a 25 percent from CURE as an anti-rehabilitation lawmaker. He voted to limit
death penalty appeals, and to increase penalties for drug
offenses. It seems he had little concern for the civil rights
of blacks and Latinos who are caught up in an unfair, racially
skewed criminal justice system.
If Santorum had cared so much about black people, he would
have taken action to deal with the gun violence and murders
that are disproportionately affecting communities of color.
Yet, he voted to loosen
license and background checks at gun shows, and voted to sell guns without trigger locks. Santorum also
voted to prohibit lawsuits against weapon manufacturers.
Of the victims of Hurricane
Katrina he said “[Y]ou
have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people
at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There
may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who
decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences
to not leaving.”
Santorum voted against food stamp eligibility for blind
or disabled legal immigrants.
He also opposed a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits
for people who exhausted their state jobless benefits.
And not surprisingly, Santorum received a 0 rating from
NARAL, a completely anti-choice voting record. As a U.S.
Senator he voted no on allocating $100 million to reduce
teen pregnancy through education and contraceptives. Yet, the Christian Coalition gave Santorum a perfect 100 pro-family rating.
We have to wonder what warped sense of family values they
had in mind.
Those who invoke race when denying a woman’s right to choose
would shut the door on the rights of poor black and brown
the Christian Right preaches family values, they advocate
for the most atrocious policies for women, their families
and their communities. For all their talk about the sanctity of life, they are very selective when it
comes to the type of life they deem worthy of protection.
Editor, David A. Love, JD is a journalist and human rights
advocate based in Philadelphia, is
a graduate of Harvard College
and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. and
a contributor to The Huffington
Post, theGrio, The Progressive
Media Project, McClatchy-Tribune News Service, In These Times and Philadelphia Independent Media Center. He also blogs at davidalove.com, NewsOne, Daily
Kos, and Open Salon. Click here to contact Mr. Love.