Thursday, October 27, 2011

On Abortion Clinics, Pro-Lifers Are 'Close'-Minded

Family Research Council:  Washington Update

Americans need to understand that when organizations like Planned Parenthood insist that women have a "right" to abortion, they don't mean a safe one. In clinics across the country, vulnerable women are shuttled in and out of clinics that look more like combat zones than surgical centers. Kermit Gosnell, who is on trial for 261 pages of abortion horrors at his Philadelphia clinic, put a real face on the "choice" movement. For his patients--and so many others--"choice" means being subjected to rusty equipment, bloodstained blankets, and untrained staff. And unfortunately, Gosnell is just one example of a nationwide nightmare. Like other clinic operators, the millionaire doctor shirked on safety to grow his profit margins. And thanks to a shift in pro-life strategy, that's all starting to change. In states across the country, America is getting serious about protecting women with airtight regulations for abortion clinics. In fact, when I was in the Louisiana legislature, I authored a bill to do exactly that. While conservatives are still trying to change people's minds about abortion, they're putting more emphasis on protecting the mothers that seek it. To do that, pro-lifers are cracking down on abortion at the source. It's what Dr. Theodore Joyce calls "The Supply-Side Economics of Abortion."

Yesterday, he expanded on this phenomenon in an article published by the New England Journal of Medicine. "Early approaches to restricting abortion access were directed largely at [women]--the demand side of the market and perhaps frustrated by many women's determination to overcome demand-side hurdles, abortion opponents have turned to supply-side restrictions, focusing on providers of abortion services. This strategy is likely to be more effective." Believe it or not, abortion is one of the least regulated surgeries in the United States. In Pennsylvania, for instance, one district attorney said the state's clinics have fewer regulations than beauty salons or public schools. So one approach pro-lifers have taken, most recently in Virginia and Kansas, is passing laws that force abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory hospitals. That means more licensed staff, better sanitation, bigger rooms, and cutting-edge equipment. To most of us, that only sounds logical. But to abortion clinics, the bulk of which cut corners to make a profit, it represents a huge hurdle in doing business. For them, the emphasis has always been on revenue, not patient safety. When they're asked to comply with strict new health standards, most would rather shut down than protect women.

Take the state of Texas, for instance. Seven years ago, legislators passed a law that required all abortions at or after 16 weeks be performed in a hospital or ambulatory surgical center. Dr. Joyce points out that the policy had a shocking effect on the abortion rate. In one year, "the number of abortions performed in Texas at or after 16 weeks of gestation dropped by 88%, from 3,642 in 2003 to 446 in 2004." In Arizona, he explains, bearing down on the clinics had a similar effect. Leaders there passed a rule that only doctors could perform abortions. "As a result," Dr. Joyce writes, "Planned Parenthood of Arizona stopped performing abortion services in three clinics, since only nurse practitioners had been available&" Ironically, the same groups spending millions of dollars to protect abortion are the ones fighting these laws. That, more than anything, should expose the pro-abortion movement for what it is: cold, calculating opportunists who see women as profit, not patients.