I don't expect the likes of Senator Ted Cruz to pause and think critically about women's health before tweeting out his misinformed perspective on the right wing's hot-button issue of the day:
Bravo to the pro-lifers who made #Gosnell a national story. Your work is desperately needed to ensure such a horror never happens again.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) April 13, 2013
Ted Cruz gets it all wrong: “pro-life” activists actually increase the odds of more horrors like those perpetrated by Kermit Gosnell by working to restrict women's access to safe and legal abortions, as well as birth control to prevent pregnancy in the first place.
Half of all US pregnancies are unintended. Of those, half, or 1.3 million pregnancies end in abortion every year. Half of those women were using contraception at the time and became pregnant (no method is 100% effective).
Studies have shown that the rate of abortion is the same in countries where it is legal and illegal. In countries where it is illegal, half of all abortions are performed in unsafe conditions, meaning that they are performed by individuals who lack sufficient professional training, or are done in unsuitable facilities that do not meet minimum medical standards. About 70,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions. An additional 5 million women suffer permanent or temporary injury.
Read more below the jump.All that banning abortion does — all that Ted Cruz's policy stance on women's choice will do — is drive women to make dangerous, desperate choices, and operate in the shadows where perpetrators like Kermit Gosnell can prey on women.
Gosnell was himself performing illegal abortions on predominantly poor women who were not deterred by TRAP laws and gestational limits in seeking to end their pregnancies. The fact that they had no option but to visit this barbaric butcher shows what happens when conservatives succeed in curtailing access to a woman's right to choose.
Lilith Fund, a non-profit that raises funds to help cover hte cost of abortions here in Texas, said it best on their Facebook page:
This is not a case of why abortion should be more regulated; this is a case about how people will take advantage of desperate people who need abortions but can't get around the oppressive laws and cost. This is a story about why the Hyde Amendment is literally killing women. This is a story about how important abortion funds are. This is a story about why we need your donations. And this is a story that says you cannot end abortion. You can only end safe, legal abortion, and we will NOT go back to back alley abortions.
Ted Cruz is also wrong about who brought the story to light. A well-research piece in Salon by Irin Carmon makes clear that there is no Gosnell cover up to be “exposed” by hordes of right-wingers on Twitter:
If you've never heard of the Gosnell story, it's not because of a coverup by the liberal mainstream media. It's probably because you failed to pay attention to the copious coverage among pro-choice and feminist journalists, as well as the big news organizations, when the news first broke in 2011. There would be something rich, if it weren't so infuriating, about these (almost uniformly male, as it happens) reporters and commentators scrambling to break open this shocking untold story.
The same day that the right-wing noise machine turned it up to 11 about Gosnell, the state of Virginia was passing restrictions aimed at closing abortion facilities in the state using TRAP laws — the same mechanisms that Republicans in Texas are trying to use to shut down abortion clinics here.
Gosnell preyed on poor women who had few options in terms of ending their unwanted pregnancies. The State of Pennsylvania was deeply remiss in not following up sufficiently on complaints from the predominantly poor women of color who were victimized by Gosnell. But that's not the biggest issue here — Gosnell was able to operate because of a ready supply of desperate women had no other options.
As Carmon puts it in Salon, “By all means, be up in arms about Kermit Gosnell. But blame existing policies and public indifference to low-income communities.”
And if “ignoring” this story rankles conservatives so much, where were they over the last two years? There was nary a mention of Gosnell on the right for two years, while feminist and progressive publications were covering his atrocities against poor women.
While Ted Cruz applauds “pro-life” activists for bringing this story to light, if he'd been reading this progressive, feminist news coverage he'd have already known about it — and if he was really determined to prevent these atrocities, he'd sign on in support of expanded access to birth control and help protect a woman's right to a safe, legal abortion at Planned Parenthood.
I don't expect any of that to happen any time soon. In the meantime, anti-choice anti-woman conservatives continue to advance policies that if successful would only create more houses of horrors such as Gosnell's and prey on women who have no safe, legal options.