January 19, 2016


"Preventing the Next Kermit Gosnell," David Cohen et al., Slate's "XX Factor": "There are three important reasons that [illegal abortion provider] Kermit Gosnell is not a justification" for the Supreme Court to uphold Texas' omnibus antiabortion-rights bill (HB 2) in Whole Woman's Health v. Cole, despite claims from abortion-rights opponents that "greater restrictions on abortion facilities would prevent future Gosnells," write Cohen, Susan Frietsche and Tara Pfeifer. "First, the story of Kermit Gosnell is not one of under-regulation," the authors state, noting that "Pennsylvania's restrictions on abortion ... were among the nation's toughest, and served as a template for other antiabortion legislatures across the country." Second, the authors explain that "medically unnecessary abortion regulations -- like the Texas regulations at issue before the Supreme Court -- actually help to create the conditions in which marginal or illegal abortion practitioners like Kermit Gosnell can operate" because "the cost and burden of complying with [such restrictions] forces many safe, responsible providers to shut their doors" and "effectively ope[n] the door for rogue practitioners to thrive." Lastly, the authors write that "the restrictions at issue in Texas are also likely to reduce the chance that a responsible, skilled abortion provider will have the opportunity to report the next Kermit Gosnell to authorities." The authors note that "responsible, lawful abortion providers ... for whom patient health and safety are paramount have a strong incentive to root out substandard facilities in order to protect women who need their care as well as their own reputations." They argue that officials should "trea[t] providers as trusted partners" who can serve as "an important source of intelligence about substandard or marginal practitioners" because they have earned patients' trust (Cohen, "XX Factor," Slate, 1/15).