The jury considering the fate of Kermit Gosnell — a Philadelphia-area abortion doctor accused of preying on vulnerable women and killing live babies in his illegal, unsanitary clinic — entered its ninth day of deliberations on Friday. Throughout the ongoing murder trial, abortion opponents have attempted to leverage the emotional outrage surrounding the case to draw a comparison between Gosnell’s crimes and legal abortion services, with the hopes of ultimately seizing the opportunity to further restrict reproductive rights.
According to Gallup, however, the current right-wing hysteria over Gosnell hasn’t succeeded in shifting public opinion about abortion rights. When the polling group conducted a survey at the beginning of this month, it found that the percentage of Americans who report they support legal abortion services at least in certain cases has remained steady:
In fact, the nation’s current views on abortion rights reflect the same breakdown of public opinion that has remained relatively constant over the past decade. Gallup points out that could be because relatively few Americans are actually paying attention to the Gosnell trial — something that the right-wing media has blamed on a perceived pro-choice bias in the mainstream media, despite the fact that Gosnell has been widely covered over the past several months.
There is broad consensus on both sides of the aisle that Gosnell’s alleged crimes are barbaric acts that deserve serious punishment. But many women’s health advocates have pointed out that most of the ongoing public conversation around the Gosnell trial has largely been off-base. Rather than providing compelling evidence that abortion is an inherently dangerous practice that needs additional regulations, as the anti-choice community claims, Gosnell’s case actually reveals what happens when women don’t have access to safe and affordable abortion care.