House of Horrors at Philly Abortion Clinic Inflames Debate

Abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell has been charged with eight counts of murder. Both sides of the abortion debate are having a field day with this case. But what happens to poor women of color faced with unwanted pregnancies?

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"Because of the Medicaid ban on abortion funding and state restrictions, poor women in the state and in Philadelphia really face horrific choices about what to do if they have an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, or a pregnancy that poses significant health problems," Rose Corrigan, a professor of politics and law at Drexel University, told AlterNet news. "So what I've seen is that women often shop around for abortion services. Women are so poor that a few dollars really make a difference."

It's not likely to get any easier for poor women seeking abortions. Last week the House passed a bill to restrict access to federal funding for abortion. Currently under the Hyde Amendment, funding is available only in cases of rape, incest or harm to a woman's life. Now House Republicans want to "redefine" rape with a bill that allows for federal funding of abortions only in cases of "forcible rape," where clear physical force was used. If passed, the bill will deny abortion coverage in cases of incest, statutory rape or when a woman "just" said no.

"As access becomes more limited, we are likely to see more providers like Gosnell," Schewel told The Root, likening Gosnell's clinic to pre-Roe v. Wade facilities. "It's disturbing."

Lynette Holloway is a Chicago-based writer. She is a former New York Times reporter and associate editor for Ebony magazine.

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