Conor Freidersdorf is on the case of an awful man who performed late-term abortions in a dirty clinic and killed women with his incompetence and neglect, wondering why the media hasn’t been giving it the usual 24/7 coverage. Conor’s list of why this story is important is very telling:
But it isn’t even solely a story of a rogue clinic that’s awful in all sorts of sensational ways either. Multiple local and state agencies are implicated in an oversight failure that is epic in proportions! […] There is, finally, the fact that abortion, one of the most hotly contested, polarizing debates in the country, is at the center of this case. It arguably informs the abortion debate in any number of ways, and has numerous plausible implications for abortion policy, including the oversight and regulation of clinics, the appropriateness of late-term abortions, the penalties for failing to report abuses, the statute of limitations for killings like those with which Gosnell is charged, whether staff should be legally culpable for the bad behavior of doctors under whom they work…
Conor’s world view doesn’t allow him to state the obvious: all news about things that happen to poor people in poor neighborhoods is under-reported, and this is an example of that. That said, I agree with Conor. Bring it on, because this discussion cuts both ways, and it’s about time we discussed why it’s so fucking hard for women to have a legal medical procedure performed in this country.
Let’s review the bidding: The regulation of RU-486 makes it essentially impossible for their provider to prescribe it and then, if there were any complications, to be referred to an OB/GYN at their local hospital. And, in a nation where almost every hospital lives on Medicaid and Medicare patients, and are subject to an endless set of government rules, almost every hospital forbids this procedure. So, instead of seeing their family physician if they have one, and either getting a dose of a safe, effective abortifacient, or being referred to someone who can perform the procedure in a nearby hospital, women have to travel to the Planned Parenthood abortion bunker, where they will be harassed by a standing squad of protesters. Those bunkers are few and far between, so you’re much more likely to need to arrange transportation and child care to get there. In some states, they’ll have to make multiple trips to the bunker for state-mandated counseling, while the physician in charge reads them an awful set of words designed to shame them for their legal choice.
The barriers to abortion that are an inconvenience for middle-class women are like climbing mountains for poor and immigrant women. So it’s understandable that a back alley abortion provider would rise up in a poor neighborhood to provide late-term abortions for women who have missed the short window in which they could get a legal abortion. In the course of human history, when abortions have been difficult to get, desperate women resort to desperate measures, some of which are provided in a dangerous manner by awful people.
(Thanks to reader Jerry for pointing out that this is now a big deal on the right, thanks to Conor.)
Thank you, mistermix.
Great post; thanks.
Oh for christ’s sake. Conor Friedsdorf is living proof of the fact that libertarians are people who entirely lack any grasp of history or society or anything larger than their own experience. They are constantly surprised to find out that everyone has been talking about something for literally hundreds of years because they are incapable of grasping that the world and time pre-exist their own awareness. For Friedsdorf if he didn’t notice something it wasn’t happening.
Yes, Conor, women are still getting back alley abortions, with all the attendant horrors. Not because Abortion isn’t regulated but because it has been regulated to death–right out of the hospitals and clinics where it can safely be delivered and into places where desperate women have to go because anti abortion nuts have driven normal providers out of existence. Yes, this all happened in plain sight while you weren’t noticing because you are not a woman, have never had normal relations with a woman, and never will care until you have a daughter and she needs an abortion.
I read all about it in 2011, where’s he been?
@aimai: this. Also not sure how this is an argument for more restrictions and regulations since it was already illegal. At risk of being ghoulish, compare the reaction to that of the right with respect to gun control and shooting sprees.
They seem to think that the cure for medical malpractice is less medical care in general.
A non mouse
Me again…not to mention RU-486 isn’t stocked in many pharmacies and those of us in rural America need to travel an hour plus to fill the script…
Hopefully, this isn’t a sign of things to come. Racing with the Moon had a scene about back alley abortions in the forties but most movies don’t touch that issue.
one of the reasons I mentioned that is some younger generation members didn’t see the horror involved with abortion. They need to be reminded.
This is like arguing that Sweeney Todd was the result of a failure to regulate the barber industry. A guy like this guy Kermit is a predator–you can help protect his prey not by making the service unavailable but by making the service more available so competition drives him out.
And–this was a story with feminist writers on the left from the fucking moment it happened. The whole effing idea that we refuse to talk about it because it doesn’t fit into our ‘narrative’ about abortion is bullshit. Just because Young Connor is too stupid to do a Google search or actually read what women on the left have been writing about does not mean it didn’t happen….
Of course. They also seem to think the cure for poor students not getting good grades is increased poverty in the home.
I think what you are saying is that when abortions are criminalized only criminals will perform abortions.
Joel (Macho Man Randy Savage)
Well said, mistermix.
mmmm. I can think of another hotly contested, polarizing debate in the country, with a store at the center of the case with over 500 violations of existing law dating back to 2007 (lack of oversight! lack of regulation! liability of staff!) and a nicely visible death count — funny how in the case I’m thinking of the RW conclusion Is the exact opposite. It’s good to be a gun.
Conor’s just upset the media isn’t covering something he wants to use as an stick to hit his ideological opponents with.
Subordinates should be legally culpable for what the boss does?
Fits well with overall glibertarian philosophy.
Yeah, I read a lot about this when it happened. Back then, it was solely liberals, feminists, and pro-choicers talking about it, because Gosnell was the poster child for what women’s health care would look like if the right-wingers and anti-choicers got their way.
Yep. And until and unless middle class white girls start dying on a regular basis from botched, back alley abortions, it’s not really going to change. “Poors and browns? Are they people?” is the wingnut attitude. Of course, it’ll mostly require that someone in the wingnut’s immediate family also need an abortion. Most likely a daughter, but possibly a wife who needs to terminate a pregnancy, especially a later term pregnancy.
@muddy and @Scott S.: Yeah, my first thought was “wait, another one?” followed by “oh, no just the same one that was massively covered 2 years ago”. The right did pick up on it, and tried to push through regulations that would have forced the closure of every abortion-providing clinic in the state. Because that would solve the problem!
@Corner Stone: I wonder that they don’t get dizzy from the dissonance of their worldview. I was remarking the other day about this person who was very artistically talented but had absolutely zero creativity (superb copyist). That was dissonant to me. But then when I considered her thought processes and the black is white world she lived in, I realized she was plenty creative. She used it all to construct this bizarre universe for herself.
Then I thought maybe this is why you don’t get as many conservative creative people in general.
I think one of the things that makes the abortion “debate” so different from even the recent spate of gay outings is that upper class people have routinely had “therapeutic abortions” and even suffered from the indignities forced on lower class women but that the shame associated with abortion is so great that they don’t start “coming out” to their families or rallying politically–the more hurt they are by the system (and there have been some staggeringly awful descriptions of how terribly the system treats even upper class women seeking therapeutic abortions) the less they seem to want to fight politically for everyone’s rights. And the less their families seem to feel the need to get involved. Maybe the families retreat into “tut-tuttery” or “oh well, lets just agree to drop the whole thing” but I’m just not seeing a willingness on the part of upper class white women to fight for abortion rights for everyone. Not because they aren’t harmed by the intransigence of the system but because abortion still remains a very emotionally and culturally fraught issue.
This already happens and doesn’t necessarily change minds; there are endless sets of stories of people who are outside protesting abortion clinics one day, are inside the clinic as a patient or relative of a patient the next, and then the day after are right back outside screaming at people.
Cognitive dissonance at its best (or worst; take your pick).
@Violet: Not giving two fucks about the children born into grinding poverty doesn’t seem to register on Conor’s radar, either.
This wasn’t on the right-wing radar until now because, quite simply, many on that side think that the women who suffered in a place like Gosnell’s clinic got exactly what they deserved.
The source of the “We must talk about this and why is the media covering this up?!?!1111” was a Kirsten Powers opinion piece in USA today. — http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/04/10/philadelphia-abortion-clinic-horror-column/2072577/
Interestingly, as soon as this became a “thing” that must be talked about, the media started talking about it. It didn’t slowly bubble up from the right wing with tons of articles which were ignored. It pretty much exploded in one day. There were almost no articles in the conservative blogs or anywhere before that article.
And also interestingly, all the discussions that took place before this (mostly in 2011) doesn’t count. Probably because they mostly came from pro-choice and feminists.
Aimai, well said.*
*I nominate you for Balloon Juice Hall Monitor, any seconds?
Conor sees a story that could carry water for the right’s abortion narrative and wonders why other don’t recognize the sensational value and its political flammability. What he’s failing to see is that it’s a human story about the problems real people face and the solutions a screwed-up political system forces on them. That’s the problem with reporters who see national policy as a merely a game and the citizens caught in the middle only as political footballs.
@gocart mozart: There are statute of limitation limits for conspiracy and all sorts of other things that happen around a hideous establishment where desperate people go to get services they can’t get anywhere else. Looking the other way can be a crime, but I have a feeling the more people they get on the witness stand, the less likely it will be that Fox will want to broadcast the complete testimony.
This is a horrible story all around, but I saw it described somewhere (Kevin Drum?) as the right wing media’s latest pet rock. That seems to be correct, considering the manner in which their trolls are framing this story.
Here in Philly the story got tons of reporting when it broke, and reappeared in the headlines whenever there was any new development in the case. CF and his wingnut buddies can go piss up a rope.
Just finished reading Conor’s piece well, what can one say.i truly do not understand libertarians at all. Going by their mantra ‘freedom’ choice shouldn’t be an issue, according to your Supreme Court- not an issue. Be wonderful if they all started falling all over themselves to support choice like they have with gay marriage, yes? ( I know Fat chance) and I want a unicorn.
There must be something really weird institutionally at The Atlantic.
Conor’s article is like a piece of art intended to demonstrate some contagion that rends someone completely out of touch with reality.
We should have a name for this syndrome. Perhaps Atlanticus Gastritis or McArdial Infarction.
No no no no no you silly libz. News isn’t news until a conservative commentor decides it’s news. Then it MUST be wall-to-wall coverage of this pet issue or it’s ZOMG COVER-UP WHAT ARE THEY HIDING BENGHAZI BLAH IN THE WHITE HOUSE ARGLEBARGLE!!
This. Because THEIR case is different. Not like those other sluts.
You would think the same pro life folk would support ACA because it covers pre-natal and child health care. That is such a big expense for some that they have no alternatives except to abort.
It depends on the meaning of pro-life, I suppose.
Serious Conor and the Dead Babies…I think they opened for The Melvins on their last tour.
@aimai: thank you.
I think my favorite quote ever from a wingnut on abortion was Pat Robertson, the Christian Right kingpin himself, telling people in an interview that the forced abortion policy in China was just them doing what they had to do and we shouldn’t judge.
It was a nice and revealing moment.
I’m going to link here to an Irin Carmon story from Salon, “There is no Gosnell coverup” which deals so many of the relevant issues more honestly and surprisingly, more succinctly, than Friedersdorf. It really puts into context that this case had gotten plenty of coverage by pro-choice women, and that the circumstances that led to this were the restrictions on abortion.
I thought in the context of this story dealing with the victimization of poor women, I thought these Friedersdorf columns, were especially relevant reading in context: “Mitt Romney Isn’t Alone: Politicians Rarely Prioritize the Very Poor”, where he argues briefly that Romney should not be stigmatized for ignoring the poor since all politicians do so, “A Real Commitment to Minority Rights Needs a Real Commitment to Freedom” about the intolerance of liberals for “forcing” catholics to pay for birth control, and “The Bipartisan Interest in Making Women Feel Bad”: there is no war on women.
The Ancient Randonneur
Wow. It’s almost like making abortion illegal, or at a minimum more difficult to obtain leads to these awful outcomes. No one could have predicted this terrible thing!
Child birth isn’t a blessing to be helped, it’s a punishment to be endured. It’s the sluts’ penance for failing to keep their legs closed, so the harder and more painful it is, the better. Ditto the next twenty years of raising the kid.
(At least, for the poor women. The leeches, those who deserve it. MY little special snowflake is different, you understand).
Another Halocene Human
@aimai: Oh for christ’s sake. Conor Friedsdorf is living proof of the fact that libertarians are people who entirely lack any grasp of history or society or anything larger than their own experience. They are constantly surprised to find out that everyone has been talking about something for literally hundreds of years because they are incapable of grasping that the world and time pre-exist their own awareness. For Friedsdorf if he didn’t notice something it wasn’t happening.
It would be really interesting to study libertarians and see how they shake out in terms of demographics but more interestingly, personality type and where they fall on the autistic — schizotypal spectrum (and I would guess clustered on the autistic). Ask about parental status and mental health as well. Even study their brains and social and emotional development and see if some of them have a developmental delay. So many of them in their 20s sound like much younger kids who haven’t yet pegged onto the fact that the world doesn’t revolve around them.
Also, if we were comparing libertarians it would be very important to have a good questionnaire of attitudes (a bunch of statements to agree/disagree with, the bane of psych grad students) to see if older even elderly libertarians actually don’t believe the same things as younger libertarians.
Another Halocene Human
Another Halocene Human
@Cacti: The English legal system in its modified form as we use it has some perversities. Such as that the person who planned and committed the murder can sometimes end up serving less time than the accessories, even if the accessory was afraid for their life at the time. Also, if you tell the truth you might end up punished more harshly than someone who either makes shit up or refuses to talk.
The legal system punishes the weak more harshly than the strong.
Don’t forget that list of words contains medically false statements being given by a doctor under penalty of law to a patient who expects the doctor to be giving them accurate medical information. One of the especially sick, corrupting twists they’ve thrown into the issue.
Villago Delenda Est
Well, that is A solution.
Just as letting climate change wipe out the species is A solution.
Whether or not the solution is acceptable, of course, is another matter altogether, which glibertarian fucktards, like Conor, have not bothered to consider, which is covered in aimai’s post at #3.
I’m not sure that a clue-by-four upside the head will help with this twit. Sometimes glibertarians can actually learn, and figure out that Ayn Rand was a sociopathic putz, but then again, sometimes they don’t. Witness the ambulatory sack of shit that is the junior senator from Kentucky, for example.
CONOR: No, no, no, we have to use the power of the government to intervene in this decision that would otherwise be between a woman and her doctor. We can’t leave it up to the market and let people choose on their own.
Er, wait, let me come in again…
Is there some gene for empathy and cause and effect? Probably not but it would explain a lot.
@Villago Delenda Est:
Ayn Rand’s stance on abortion. In her own words, 1968:
“Never mind the vicious nonsense of claiming that an embryo has a “right to life.” A piece of protoplasm has no rights—and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable. . . . Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives. The task of raising a child is a tremendous, lifelong responsibility, which no one should undertake unwittingly or unwillingly. Procreation is not a duty: human beings are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice, not for the sake of anyone’s benefit, but for the sake of misery qua misery, for the sake of forbidding happiness and fulfillment to living human beings.”
@Nicole: I love that passage. It’s the biggest acorn ever dug up by history’s blindest pig.
@gocart mozart: I second that emotion.
@DFS: Eh, Rand was considerably more complicated than either the glibertarians or the people on the left who demonize her take her to be. Mind you, she wasn’t any great philosopher, but she was a complicated human being, from a very despised minority, who lived through a pretty traumatic event when young. I find you have to take her in the context of who she was and where she came from, if you’re going to discuss her at all- which I don’t usually, as I don’t find much of what she said particularly groundbreaking, but as a screaming liberal who has actually read a fair amount of her nonfiction as well as all of her novels, I get tired of her being the default punching bag for lefties who aren’t familiar with what she wrote.
She said of Reagan, in 1976:” Mr. Reagan is not a champion of capitalism, but a conservative in the worst sense of that word—i.e., an advocate of a mixed economy with government controls slanted in favor of business rather than labor (which, philosophically, is as untenable a position as one could choose).”
For that matter, she wasn’t even anti-union; she stated that individuals should be free to organize together if they wished. What she opposed was mandatory union membership, because she saw it as coercion. Now, those of us capable of seeing things in more than black-and-white understand the complications of union and non-union membership, but for Rand, everything was about the individual, and anything that, in her very black-and-white mind, smelled (to her) of coercion, she, vehemently and wordily, opposed.
This has nothing to do with the wingnuts slashing budgets everywhere, of course. No money for enforcement and oversight, but still the same requirements and regs on the books, so it’s all gummint’s fault that it can’t do its job.
You know Connor has written a great deal of foolishness and has a bad reputation here, but this time I don’t see all that you are ascribing too him. He is too focused on “why media hasn’t made a bigger story of this” but that is a fairly normal self centered-ness. He is a journalist and thinks that is important. Well yes of course he missed that it was initially covered but it was by sources he doesn’t check (liberal and local Philadelphia). I can tell him there is a certain amount of luck in what gets covered in a major national way no matter how sensational it is.
I read his story and even though the poor and minorities do get less help and attention, it really is weird how many people reported this guy and got no response from higher authority. I’d say that means that there are lots more things not being inspected that have nothing to do with abortion in several agencies and full scale investigation of lets see 3 state agencies and the near by hospital management needs to begin. Probably major upper management replacement needs to happen.
As for employees being responsible…not normally, but participating in murder no matter what orders you get is illegal. Yes they should be prosecuted too. That’s probably why most didn’t report anything. They weren’t just witnesses or saw something suspicious-they were (according to allegations not yet gone through trial) participants.
Yes this is what the old days of back-ally abortions were like.
I want to hear that investigations of the health department and others has begun.
This was well covered in Philly and has surfaced in the media again because of the trial. When the news first broke, I was pleasantly surprised that nobody (conservative or liberal) was trying to manipulate the story for their own ends. I personally think the situation is both uncommon and outside of the abortion debate, but that’s never stopped anyone before–are we saying the delayed reaction is simply because few people knew about it?
It reminds me a lot of a horrendous hospital here in Los Angeles, formally known as King/Drew Medical Center but locally known as “Killer King” because if you were admitted there, you had a good chance of dying from something preventable (like the nurses not bothering to monitor you). It took a huge effort to get the management fired and the county to agree to take it over, because it was literally the only hospital within 20 miles for a lot of people, and they preferred to take their chances with the crappy care at King than to die in the ambulance trying to get to a more distant hospital.
Again, as with this story, the main reason the hospital continued to exist was that it mostly served poor people and nobody could be bothered to try and get them decent care.
Wow. I’ve never seen that before. I am speechless that I not only agree with Ayn Rand in general but that she almost perfectly encapsulates my own beliefs about abortion more efficiently than I ever could.
I need a shower. I feel inexplicably dirty.
Odie Hugh Manatee
So a Republican governor tells the state department of health to stop inspecting abortion clinics and then this happens?
Gee, you would almost think that this was the anticipated outcome that the governor was looking for.
That’s what I’m saying, at least. As the OP mentions stories about the poor don’t get much play in the national media in the first place, and this one had the potential to embarass Republicans on several levels. Now that it’s been a couple years, someone in the GOP media saw it as an opportunity to use it as a hammer to beat the mainstream media over the head with via claims of liberal bias (which has been the focal point of all the conservative bitching I’ve seen, far more than the actual events at the clinic).
Definitely a coordinated campaign, though. On Facebook the entire issue materialized literally out of nowhere on the same day, from people none of whom had ever commented on it in the last two years, with every status hitting the same key points (the main one being “biased liberal media is biased! And liberal!”) I don’t think I’ve ever seen the hive mind effect manifested so blatantly on any issue.
(My main question is “if this happened because of liberal bias, then why has Fox News, the National Review, the Washington Times, PJMedia and the entire conservative chunk of the media been equally quiet for all this time?” but IOKIYAR).
Villago Delenda Est
Then again, on the other hand, there’s this.
Oh wow, I got into a huge argument with a wingnut troll at my place on my Good News Friday thread about this very thing. For some reason wingers seem to think this horrible story somehow proves that the pro-choice side is “wrong.” When in fact what this horrible story proves is that illegal abortion is nasty business and we don’t want to go back to the pre-Roe v Wade era unless we want to have a Kermit Gosnell in every town in the country.
When is Fucking Conor working at a shelter? When is Fucking Conor working at a Soup Kitchen?
Is Fucking Conor going to write a book called “Poor Like Me”, or maybe (gasp) “Vagina Like Me”?
Fucking White Shit like Fucking Conor makes me ashamed to be a fucking white man.
Fuck Conor right up the ass, with a masonry nail.
Sorry for the language. If you are offended, fuck you.