“It's disappointing, but not surprising, that Planned Parenthood is seeking to silence a powerful voice for Kermit Gosnell's victims,” Michael Greer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, said in a March 21 statement to CNA.
“The decision to attack Rep. Davidson shows where Planned Parenthood's interests truly lie: power and profits, not women's health.”
State representative Margo Davidson – a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives – supports legal access to abortion. However, she also voted in favor of a bill to increase health regulations for abortion providers, in honor of her cousin who she says died after visiting a clinic run by Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.
In May 2013, Gosnell was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder for killing infants after failed abortion procedures, as well as a number of other charges including involuntary manslaughter of a patient at his facility, performing abortions past the state's legal limit, and a range of other health and safety violations.
His case drew national attention for its gruesome charges of brutality, medical misconduct, and poor conditions at his medical facility, including claims that blood was not cleaned from operating room surfaces and that the hallways at the clinic were not wide enough to fit stretchers and emergency personnel.
Davidson’s cousin, Semika Shaw, reportedly died from an infection after an appointment at Gosnell's clinic in 2002. Davidson now represents the district in West Philadelphia where Gosnell operated Women’s Medical Society.
Following Gosnell's arrest and trial, Davidson voted in 2011 and 2013 for legislation that placed more strict regulations on abortion clinics' health standards, bringing them in line with other medical clinics' standards of care.
She also supported proposed laws to bar private insurers from selling plans that covered abortion on new state health care exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act.
In December 2011, Davidson said that she voted to support the increases in abortion clinic health care standards to honor her cousin's memory.
In a speech on the state House floor, she said that she supported the legislation “so that never again will a woman walk into a licensed health care facility in the state of Pennsylvania and be butchered, as she was.”
Both Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women in Pennsylvania have announced their support of Billy Smith – Davidson's opponent in the upcoming Democratic primary. This marks the first Democratic primary in which the National Organization for Women has supported a man over a woman running for office. The group said it was confident that Smith would “fight for the women” of Pennsylvania.
Planned Parenthood in the state said that the safety regulations for which Davidson voted are “limiting access to safe, legal abortion in Pennsylvania.”
“It is clear that we need true advocates for women’s health in Harrisburg, and we are confident that Billy is exactly the kind of candidate we need,” said Sari Stevens, executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates.
Davidson said in a statement for her campaign that despite the criticism from Planned Parenthood and from NOW, her voting record shows that she has worked “to end gender pay gaps, to promote job creation and economic justice for women while promoting women and diversity for leadership roles,” adding that “there is no endorsement that will change these facts.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said Planned Parenthood's endorsement of Davidson's opponent has “heaped pain upon grief” for Davidson, and reaffirms the candidate’s claim that “for the ‘pro-choice’ community, ‘the institution (of abortion is) more important than the individual lives.’”
“Despite evidence of abuse and neglect inside their own clinics, Planned Parenthood once again makes it crystal clear they care more about abortion than the lives of the women they claim to serve,” Dannenfelser added.
Planned Parenthood has decided not to endorse a Pennsylvania lawmaker who supported increasing health regulations for abortion clinics, a move that critics describe as indicative of the abortion giant’s true interests.
Abortion, Planned Parenthood, Gosnell trial