"The reason we want abortion to be legal and safe is so that women can go to legitimate abortion providers and we don't have to worry about these back-alley abortionists coming back," says Jessica Arons, head of the Women's Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress.
"It was a very real and distressing reality for women before Roe v. Wade was decided. We thought we had said goodbye to back-alley abortionists," Arons said, comparing what happened at the Women's Medical Society to the notorious unlicensed abortion mills that women resorted to before Roe v. Wade. "And it's illegal under the law. That's what I think people are missing in the bigger picture."
Legal access to abortion helps counteract "predators" who "prey on vulnerable women," Arons said.
"It's not that we need more laws or stricter laws. Pennsylvania just didn't do its job in enforcing the laws against him earlier."
Anti-abortion rights groups are trying to turn that argument on its head. They blame the pro-abortion rights lobby for the lack of enforcement. And they have help from the Gosnell grand jury.
Grand jury: Politics led to inspections stopping
Pennsylvania's Department of Health has the responsibility of auditing facilities like the one Gosnell operated.
In 1993, the department stopped inspecting abortion clinics "for political reasons," according to the grand jury report.
"The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro," the report says. When Gov. Tom Ridge, a Republican who supported abortion rights, took office, "officials concluded that inspections would be 'putting a barrier up to women' seeking abortions."
In interviews with CNN, both Quigley and Yoest pointed to that quote.
Ridge now leads the consulting and management group Ridge Global and the lobbying firm Ridge Policy Group. Spokespeople did not return CNN's requests for comment from the former governor.
Yoest, of Americans United for Life, says the Women's Medical Society case proves that tougher laws are needed.
Abortion rights activists have long battled against "common sense" regulations at clinics, Yoest argues. "The legacy of Kermit Gosnell is he's the logical conclusion of that."
But abortion rights groups deny pressuring against inspections. In fact, they say, they want the laws enforced.
"The whole idea of having legal access to abortion is to ensure that women have access to comprehensive reproductive health care in a way that is appropriate. So if a government needs to inspect clinics that's completely reasonable," says Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "That's a patient safety issue."
As a result of the discoveries about Gosnell's clinic, there was a bill in the state legislature to ensure inspections take place, Hoover said, "but that bill got hijacked by the other side -- and they forced new regulations on the clinics."
Clinic restrictions: "Common sense" or "TRAP"?
The new regulations being pushed by groups opposed to legal abortion include demands that hallways at clinics be large enough to fit gurneys and that there be a minimum number of parking spaces outside.
Such ideas are "common sense," says Yoest, adding that it's "breathtaking" to think anyone would argue against them.
But supporters of legal abortions say the fight for clinic regulations is part of an effort to put clinics that offer abortions out of business altogether. Abortion rights activists call them "TRAP" laws -- targeted regulation of abortion providers.
"TRAP bills single out abortion providers for medically unnecessary, politically motivated state regulations" to "stigmatize and burden abortion providers" and "chip away at abortion access," the National Abortion Federation says on its website. Many of the regulations "are not medically justified... Clinics can be forced to extensively remodel and hire new staff or even close entirely, resulting in women having to travel great distances to obtain abortion care."
Yoest and Quigley did not answer when asked whether their groups' push for tougher regulations on clinics are part of a strategy to end legal abortion.
But written talking points provided by Americans United for Life state: "Using our model legislation and our hard-won expertise with abortion clinic regulations, we also intend to provoke future, strategic 'test cases' -- federal and state legal challenges to carefully crafted and selected state laws -- that will serve as vehicles to severely undermine Roe v. Wade and, ultimately, eradicate it from American law."
'Born alive' laws: Critical or extraneous?
Groups opposing legal abortion are also citing the Women's Medical Society case in the push for more states to have so-called "born alive" legislation outlawing the killing of viable babies born after attempted abortions.