*If ever there was a case study that supports the need for the new national health care law it has to be the case against Dr. Kermit Gosnell. He’s the Philadelphia general practicioner charged with murder last week.
Prosecutors say Gosnell performed late-term abortions in his home-based clinic – a procedure for which he was not trained – that caused the death of at least two women and that he often delivered live babies whom he killed by cutting their spinal cords after birth. It makes my stomach churn to think about what lawmen say hundreds of women endured at Gosnell’s hand.
Why would these women, mostly poor minorities, risk their lives at Gosnell’s clinic? Why did state regulators fail to inspect the clinic since 1993 and fail to investigate the forty-six lawsuits filed against the doctor since he opened the clinic in 1979? If the women could have afforded safer, better healthcare I’m sure they would have sought it. And those state regulators? They didn’t think poor minority women were worth their time or their concern.
Policiticans have created public policies that benefit private industry from insurance and prescription drugs to the prison industrial complex. When there’s money to be made they have not ignored potential profits. If we are to believe (as reports said) that Gosnell made millions of dollars in his illegal enterprise while putting the health of women at risk, and that state regulators suspected, yet ignored the loss of state and federal income taxes that probably reached into the tens of thousands of dollars, I can only conclude that they cared less for the safety and well being of their minority constituents than for their lost profits. In other words, they would rather lose millions of dollars than to provide adequate healthcare for millions of disadvantaged people. And that is discrimination at its worst.
According to a recent healthcare report, Blacks and Latinos made up nearly half of the estimated 50 million Americans with no access to affordable insurance or health care. Under the Affordable Care Act, 30 million uninsured Americans will get healthcare coverage. So why are some politicians fighting tooth and nail against it? They say it will add millions of dollars to the American deficit. But what’s a few million dollars added to the already billion dollar deficit if it will allow everyone cheaper and safer access to healthcare? And if it always has been about the money why are doctors like Gosnell allowed to exist and profit millions of dollars? Evidently it’s not about the money.
If the women and babies harmed by Gosnell were White he would not have been allowed to operate for so long. He would have been charged with murder after the first complaint was filed years ago. State health officials who were questioned for not doing periodic inspections and not investigating those scores of lawsuits should be held accountable. They were paid to do a job and they failed miserably at the expense of a generation of new life.
Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send questions, comments or requests for speaking engagements to Steffanie at firstname.lastname@example.org. And see the video version of her journal at www.youtube.com/steffanierivers.