I discussed earlier). I doubt this alone explains it, though. Gosnell could easily be seen as a quite disturbed person as well, so it's not as if we're lacking a simplistic journalistic narrative to attach to him. The heart of it, I think, is that there just isn't the same sort of public association of the pro-choice mainstream with an abetting of murder the way there is for the pro-life mainstream, so Roeder gets tied to the pro-life banner more generally while the media is not associating Gosnell with the pro-choice banner. I would hazard to guess that the Gosnell case has been buried quite intentionally, even though many more people died at his hands than at Roeder's.
That's all preface, though, and not really the point of what I wanted to write about. What interests me is the extent to which the Gosnell abortions really damage one of the prominent arguments made by pro-choice folks for legalizing abortions... that if abortions are illegal, they will simply go on in back alleys and under very unsafe conditions. Legalization allows regulation of procedure.
It's an ironic sort of argument in the first place. Obama and others tout it under the mantra, "safe and legal", but its form is eerily similar to the gun-happy Second Amendment fetishists who say that if you make gun ownership illegal, only criminals will have guns. A confluence of ideological opposites as American as apple pie, I suppose.
With Gosnell's clinic exposed, we see an even greater reason to doubt whether this argument is anything more than mere rhetoric. What's so great about clinics that can operate under the freedom of the law when oversight is so atrocious as to allow Gosnell's clinic? Selwyn Duke wrote about this yesterday at length, and offered some information about the lack of oversight in Pennsylvania. And this isn't even new with Gosnell. It seems unwise to assume that the legal system isn't overlooking other similar cases as we speak.
Will the argument that legal abortions prevent unsafe procedures be convincing anymore? How can anyone really take it seriously, when there are multiple demonstrations of the fact that back-alley style procedures currently face such spotty oversight?
If pro-choice legislators hope to regain our trust, and to keep using the "safe and legal" slogan, will they start by investigating the Pennsylvania system of oversight that allowed this to happen, and taking the proper legal response to those officials who cost so many women and children their lives? Further, will they cease to condemn restrictions on abortions such as mandatory monitoring beforehand or various standards of inspection and consent as "anti-choice"? How are these regulative efforts anything but completely in line with the "safe and legal" principle? Until now it's been the pro-life politicians who have been pushing for stricter regulation of abortion practices even though the pro-choice politicians have enjoyed so much political gain from the rhetoric of safety and regulation of procedure. This sort of simultaneous piggy-backing and demonizing of the pro-life cause is becoming increasingly transparent.
Will these abortion clinic killings create a space for progressive political action in the direction that the pro-life movement has been advocating for years? Unfortunately, I doubt the tragedy will have very much effect if the media silence on it so far is any indication.
Liveblogging World War II: May 24, 1943
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