While abortion opponents have been energized by the murder trial of rogue Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the gruesome details of Gosnell's practice only make the case for fewer restrictions on abortion.
When asked about the Gosnell trial at a press conference on Tuesday, Reid said anti-abortion laws and physical attacks on abortion clinics are what drive women to dangerous, illegal providers like Gosnell in the first place.
"What led to this -- these convictions of murder for this man -- is the fact that people have been pushed back into these holes to do something that's legal," Reid said. "I think that all this picking of these clinics and throwing chemicals into them to make them so they can't use them, you can't get the chemicals out, all these restrictive laws -- the law of the land is now what the Supreme Court has said. And I think to keep pushing these clinics back into situations where they wind up like this is wrong."
Gosnell was found guilty on Monday of three counts of first-degree murder, one count of involuntary manslaughter, and numerous other charges related to the illegal, gruesome abortions he provided to mostly low-income and immigrant women. He repeatedly violated several laws in Pennsylvania, including a ban on abortions after 24 weeks of gestation and a mandatory informed consent law, and his clinic fell far short of standard abortion clinic safety guidelines, but the Pennsylvania Health Department apparently failed to enforce those regulations.
Republicans and anti-abortion activists have been trying to tie the Gosnell case to all legal abortion providers, Planned Parenthood and the Obama administration since the trial began. Freshman Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) said the case proved that Democrats "don’t care how many women are maimed, infected with diseases or die" in abortion clinics.
"Democrats do not want abortion to be safe or rare. Democrats oppose even the most basic of health and safety standards for abortion mills," he said on Monday. "Democrats don’t care how many women are maimed, infected with diseases or die on the routinely-filthy abortion mills. Democrats worship abortion with same fervor the Canaanites worshiped Molech."
Reid said that women's health and safety should be the number one concern of people on both sides of the debate. "I think that no matter how you stand on the issue of abortion, people who make that decision should do it and not have to be worried about infections and some butcher like this doing the bad things they do," he said. "They should be in a place that's clean and sterile and have people that know what they're doing and care about what they do."