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Pennsylvania Governor, Trailing in the Polls, Tries to Link Opponent to Jailed Abortion Doctor

Nina Liss-Schultz

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is launching an attack on his Democratic opponent, Tom Wolf, over Wolf’s position on abortion by trying to link him to Kermit Gosnell, a rogue abortion doctor sentenced to life in prison.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett launched an attack on his Democratic opponent, Tom Wolf, over Wolf’s position on safe abortion care by trying to link him to Kermit Gosnell, a rogue abortion doctor sentenced to life in prison.

While Corbett and Wolf faced off in the first of three electoral debates, Corbett’s campaign sent a flier to conservatives in the state highlighted by a picture of Wolf’s face depicted above Gosnell’s. The campaign literature asks whether Wolf will take the state “back” to the days when Gosnell’s clinic was running, and shows a picture of the clinic with the caption “Gosnell’s ‘House of Horrors’”:

Polls show Wolf leading against Corbett by a wide margin, upwards of 20 points.

Gosnell last year was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison after an investigation found that he had killed infants delivered alive during abortion procedures. Authorities closed Gosnell’s abortion clinic in 2010 after an inspection found that the doctor was operating in unsafe conditions.

Public health professionals have pointed out that fewer women would turn to unsafe facilities like Gosnell’s if there were more alternatives.

As University of California San Francisco researcher Carole Joffe wrote in Dispatches From the Abortion Wars, the “marginalization of abortion from mainstream medicine” along with the decrease in access to safe, legal abortion has created a “perfect storm” in which clinics like Gosnell’s thrive. Joffe and others argue that the lack of safe options for abortion forces women to turn to dangerous clinics that they would not have otherwise.

Corbett has signed into law several bills restricting abortion access during his first term—among them, a law prohibiting insurance plans bought through health insurance exchanges, set up through the Affordable Care Act, from including abortion coverage.

Wolf has said that he is pro-choice and supports access to abortion. His website does not use the word “abortion,” but states that Wolf will fight the “backward legislation signed into law by Governor Corbett that restricts a woman’s right to make her own personal health care decisions.”

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