Gosnell case figures in national abortion debate

    The case of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell has put Philadelphia in national headlines. It’s been the focus of bloggers on both sides of the abortion debate. With Saturday marking the 38th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, the Gosnell case is adding fuel to the usual fire.

    Every year, anti-abortion advocates gather in Washington, D.C., to march against the case that made abortion legal. Protest leaders this year say they think the Gosnell case will increase the turnout and reinvigorate abortion opponents.

    Shawn Carney is with 40 Days for Life, an anti-abortion group, and an organizer of a rally set for Monday. He says the case is very much on the minds of those heading to Washington from around the country.

    “This year more than any other, with this story, is just a sobering reality of what we’re dealing with when we talk about abortion,” Carney said. “In that sense, it will act as a motivator to not ignore it but take it head on.”

    Abortion rights advocates take the opposite view. Carol Tracy, director of the Women’s Law project in Philadelphia, argues that the Gosnell case can be seen as evidence that abortion should remain legal.

    “What history has shown us is that women will have abortions whether legal or illegal, the difference is whether they die,” Tracy said. “They died in Gosnell’s clinics. That’s what happens when people have to go underground to get abortions.”

    The low-income women who went to the West Philadelphia clinic did so because they couldn’t afford to go elsewhere, she said. That makes their cases the equivalent of “back alley” abortions, she said, adding that number will only rise if further legal restrictions were placed on abortion.

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