Where are the calls for increased regulations of abortion clinics?
Nancy Pelosi and other prominent pro-choice women have frequently said that they want abortion to be safe, legal and rare.
While this argument is generally made against the backdrop of coat hanger allusions, what happens when legal abortions produce the unsafe, illegal and frequent atrocities, that happened in Philadelphia?
As information over the barbaric murders of infants and women at the hands of Dr. Kermit Gosnell is released (warning: graphic information), questions remain unasked.
Why aren't we doing a better job at regulating abortion clinics? Where is the outrage from the political left? Why isn't anyone demanding that every abortion clinic in the country be held to the same standards as other out-patient facilities?
Understandably, these are a loaded questions. Pro-abortion factions have strongly argued against regulation because it gives pro-lifers a foothold to chip away at Roe vs. Wade. They are absolutely correct. But by not acting in order to save political face, women have died.
What happens when the few restrictions and checks fail? Why isn't anyone asking about the system both in Philadelphia and in the rest of the country?
In any other situation -- whether it's an airplane crash, pet food recalls, baby formula safety, or even financial reform -- when a gross violation occurs the public demands accountability and oversight. Where are the calls for increased oversight among abortion providers?
The political left seems unwilling to address the elephant in the room. From the perspective of this unabashedly pro-life blogger, it seems fairly obvious that the fallout would be bad for them. The evidence would likely give further ammunition to the half of Americans who fall somewhere on the pro-life spectrum (yes, there is a spectrum).
Instead, how many women die each year from botched abortions? How many more infants are brutally murdered that we don't know about? We don't know because those statistics aren't collected.
"I think the grand jury report speaks to an institutional and systemic problem, and I think a lot of people were responsible for the fact that these clinics were not surveyed annually," he said. "She did receive some complaints (about Gosnell) and she did not cause a survey or an inspection to occur, and I think she testified truthfully that she should have."
Despite Amanda Marcotte and Feministing's assurance that every other abortion clinic in the U.S. follows medical and legal regulations how can they know? If this situation happened in Philadelphia, a city that has numerous abortion clinics and free access to contraceptives, how do we know this isn't happening at other areas around the country?
How many other district attorneys, medical boards and health departments are sitting on evidence that crimes are being committed at the hands of abortion providers? How many of them are looking the other way because of personal political views or pressure from higher-ups? We don't know. It could be many. It could be none.
The bottom line is that unknown numbers of infants were brutally murdered and a number of women were killed because the city of Philadelphia didn't want to deal with this. If it happened in Philadelphia -- it's happening in other cities across America.
Rather than ask this difficult opinion, they are trying to spin this as the fault of the right. According to Vanessa Valenti at Feministing:
But I also agree with Amanda [Marcotte] that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions just yet until all of the facts are revealed, as the specific accusation is a common one among anti-choice folk. It’s also important to recognize that this man was an unlicensed OB/GYN and had unlicensed staff performing abortions under his practice, and to say (as many anti-choicers have) that this is your typical abortion clinic is completely unfounded...
Jump to conclusions? The grand jury testimony, which was available when the post was published, is incredibly damning. The evidence was overwhelming and as the quote above explains, this is evidence of systemic problems. Sure, not every abortion clinic in the country operates at this level, but how do they know that for sure? What oversight exists? According to the National Abortion Federation:
All health care facilities, including abortion providers, are required to comply with a variety of federal and state regulations. These include the federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, as well as state and local regulations including building and fire codes. All medical professionals, including physicians and clinicians who work in abortion care, are required to maintain professional standards and licenses and complete continuing medical education courses.
Where were those checks in Philadelphia? How could a clinic go without inspection since 1993, and then be allowed to continue operating while breaking numerous violations. The so-called protections and regulations obviously broke down somewhere.
Perhaps most importantly, let’s not forget why the likely majority these women went to a potentially criminal practice like Kermit Gosnell’s: because of the anti-choice measures that limit women’s access to safe and affordable (and, in this case, legal) abortion care. RH Reality Check reports that Karnamaya Mongar, the patient who died from a fatal heart arrhythmia caused by too much anesthesia, actually went to Gosnell’s clinic after being turned away by two other clinics in Maryland and Virginia. What if, as Amanda thought, these women could have gone to Dr. Tiller? What if, as Saletan is suggesting, late-term abortions are completely banned in this country? More illegal clinics like Gosnell’s would exist, that’s for damn sure.
As Rachel Larrimore points out in her rebuttal to Marcotte at Double X:
Gosnell did business in a city that has several abortion clinics, at least one of which offers financial assistance, in a state that offers no-cost birth control (AND emergency contraception) to women who meet income requirements. You wrote that “If you're seeking an abortion but can't afford it, going to a doctor who provides substandard care on the cheap is certainly going to be an attractive option.” But the grand jury report shows that Gosnell was anything but cheap. A first-trimester abortion can cost anywhere from $350 to $950 at Planned Parenthood. Gosnell was charging $2,500 or more for late-term abortions.
This is in no way the fault of pro-lifers. The media frame to blame this on the right will not work this time. If an illegal abortion clinic was permitted to operate in this city with the full knowledge of officials, it is happening in other parts of the country.
Rather than be honest about the realities of abortion -- it isn't a magical procedure that makes an unwanted pregnancy go "poof! -- abortion proponents seem to dig in their heels and produce possibly the most nuanced definition of murder I've ever seen. Feministing and Feministe articulate:
What we do know: A Philadelphia abortion provider is being charged with 8 counts of murder, including the death of a patient and allegedly seven infants. They’re pretty horrible charges, and if true, they’re pretty heinous crimes. But the first thing I thought when I read this story was what Jill at Feministe said: If this doctor delivered these infants, live infants that were breathing and then killed them? Let’s make something clear: That is not abortion.
Let me get this straight: because the fetus was completely outside of the mother's birth canal and then terminated, it is murder. However, if Dr. Gosnell had left the infant partially inserted in the birth canal, as the procedure for partial-birth abortion or late term abortions specifies, it would be acceptable? If you look at this diagram of how partial-birth abortions are performed, how is it that different than what Gosnell did? Yet, one is acceptable, and the other is not to the writers at Feministing and Feministe?
I realize that most women who consider themselves pro-choice are opposed to late-term abortions. However, where are the moderate voices here? The silence allows the extreme liberals like Marcotte and the writers at Feministing to fill the void. Where are the reasonable calls from Democratic women to investigate abortion providers and ensure that they are following regulations?
Rather than treat abortion as a sacred cow, why aren't more liberal women out there demanding that abortion clinics be held responsible? Both sides of the issue are polarized with rhetoric. But in this situation, the refusal to take action because of fear of political backlash caused additional deaths. This isn't an access issue* as Marcotte opines but a systemic failure of the left to uphold the few laws out there that guarantee the protection and safety of women who do chose to abort.
*Not to make this longer, but the recently-passed health care law actually makes it harder for hospitals and other medical facilities to provide abortions since physician-owned hospitals are no longer permitted to be built. That means the majority of our hospital system is operated by various factions of Catholic ministries. Requiring them to provide abortions would be a violation of their Constitutional Rights.
Adrienne works in the conservative movement and blogs at Cosmopolitan Conservative.