There seems to have been a lot of dialogue this year about the various abortion laws that are being passed in various areas of the country. So far, there have been two documentaries released (Abortion: Stories Women Tell and Trapped), a John Oliver segment, various online think pieces coming from both sides of the aisle, and to cap it off, a major Supreme Court decision striking down one such law in Texas. Oh, and this all happens to be in the midst of a presidential election in which one candidate is practically in the back pocket of the abortion lobby and the other seems to want to avoid talking about the issue or having a clear position on it at all costs.
Either way, one thing is abundantly clear: the “pro-choice” side has taken on an unnecessarily urgent, apocalyptic dialogue about these “Byzantine and draconian restrictions on abortion” and they are ruthlessly and unfairly attacking pro-life politicians who are working solely to protect pre-born babies and their mothers.
So, I’m just going to start with the obvious: anyone who even dares to compare abortion to getting a cavity filled or getting a tattoo (I have heard both of these comparisons from pro-choice people, incredibly) is completely burying their head in the sand to the reality of what abortion really is: an invasive surgical procedure that involves sticking tools inside of women and dismembering a pre-born baby. That’s not moralistic rhetoric there: that’s just facts.
And notice how I said “invasive surgical procedure,” and then notice how one abortion regulation in Texas that was overturned by the Supreme Court required abortion clinics to meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers. Well, of course they should! Any procedure that involves sticking tools inside of a person should qualify as a surgical procedure, and should be performed in a sterile environment with proper sanitation, lighting, and medical equipment necessary to save the life of a woman in case of complications.
One of the many amazing, backward things about the recent Supreme Court decision is that the plaintiff, abortion chain Whole Woman’s Health, has been cited numerous times over the last nine years alone for health and safety code violations. Just two years ago, for example, a Whole Woman’s Health clinic in Beaumont, Texas, was revealed to have numerous disturbing problems including rusty spots on suction machines, expired medicines and medicine cups, and the lack of certain life-saving tools on site such as an EKG machine and defibrillator. Whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, that is absolutely unacceptable.
The other Texas abortion law overturned by the Supreme Court required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles of his/her clinic. Again, this is basic common sense. If you’re a doctor of any kind, and your goal is to give your patient the best medical care possible, you should absolutely be able to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital. This law, in particular, was passed in response to the crimes of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a former Philadelphia abortion doctor who was convicted of murdering at least three infants who were born alive during abortions. In fact, the nearly 300-page grand jury report from Gosnell’s trial recommended that states require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals to “prevent future Dr. Gosnells.” And when further reading this report and seeing the repulsive conditions under which Gosnell’s clinic operated, one sees how it should be in the interest of every responsible lawmaker to have these regulations.
And Gosnell is no outlier either. Just recently, Steven Chase Brigham, an abortion doctor currently operating 14 clinics in three states, got his license suspended in Virginia after being cited for 26 health code violations at his Fairfax clinic, including inadequate infection control, an exam table top that was torn and could not be sanitized, and just like the Whole Woman’s Health clinic in Texas, expired medications. And thanks to the Virginia health commissioner’s granting of a variance for Brigham’s clinic that exempted it from meeting state abortion clinic building requirements (which have never been enforced under Governor McAuliffe’s administration), the clinic was allowed to operate in its disgusting conditions with no regulation or oversight until a complaint was finally filed just last year.
All of this to say, yes, abortion clinics should be held to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and all abortion doctors should be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Now, many pro-choice people will respond to this by telling various anecdotes and “horror stories” about the effects that these laws have had in states where they’ve been enacted. John Oliver touched on a few of them in his own segment railing on these laws, and some of them are unsettling, such as the story of one woman who didn’t have the means to travel to the closest abortion facility and called the clinic administrator and “asked if there was anything she could do with the supplies in her kitchen cabinet.”
And I’ll admit, when I heard that story, I felt this urge to go and counsel that woman and give her resources to empower her to choose life for her baby. While I don’t know what choice she ended up making, my heart just broke for her. But my point is, while many pro-choice people (including John Oliver and others) will hear stories like that and exploit them in order to point fingers at pro-life politicians for enacting regulations that would make it harder for women to have an abortion, here’s the question I pose to “pro-choice” people: would you rather have a few abortion clinics that abide by common-sense health and safety standards, or many abortion clinics that look like the clinics operated by Whole Woman’s Health, Kermit Gosnell and Steven Chase Brigham, i.e., clinics that don’t even care enough to have non-expired medications?
What is also amazing about the “pro-choice” logic against these laws is that it flies directly in the face of the famous Bill Clinton mantra, “safe, legal, and rare.” If people truly think that this still applies, then there wouldn’t even be a debate on these laws. Hearing John Oliver say that “abortion can’t just be theoretically legal, it has to be literally accessible” is a sorrowful reminder that what this mantra is now “accessible, legal, and on demand.” In short, “pro-choice” people don’t care about safety, they care about access; and they also don’t care about abortion being rare since, according to them, it’s “morally okay” and should be available on demand for any reason.
And yes, I will admit that, as a pro-life activist, my ultimate goal is to abolish abortion and build a culture of life that makes it completely unthinkable. But, in the meantime, our country has to do everything it can to protect the health and safety of women while expanding resources that empower them to choose life. One of the ways we do this is by having non-abortion-providing pregnancy resource centers regularly open and available for women in unexpected pregnancies to receive health-care and counseling that allows them to know all of their options in order for them to make an informed pregnancy decision.
So when “pro-choice” people get angry about the lack of abortion clinics due to abortion laws and point fingers at pro-life politicians, what their focus should really be on is having pregnancy resource centers available to low-income women in rural areas that are lacking in health care facilities and that allow women to explore all of their options and make informed decisions. After all, isn’t this called compassion?