This is a time when abortion rights fans and pro-life people can come together with common causes: First, that Planned Parenthood is not perfect, and should not be in charge of regulating its own industry; and second, that abortion clinics need regulation in order to safeguard women and any children accidentally born alive during an abortion attempt.
We can thank the Gosnell abortion mill trial, with its gruesome details and tragic accounts of babies and women murdered for profit and through carelessness, for bringing this need to light in a way that may be awakening even hard-line pro-choice people. Members of Congress are looking in to whether abortion clinics are regulated sufficiently. The U.S. House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to every health department in every state to find out how abortion clinics are regulated; the questions the letter poses are very thorough (you can read the letter by clicking here). There is a May 22 deadline for replies; it will be interesting to read the results, which will alert us all to the needs for safeguards and gaps in regulations in our own states.
And the Gosnell trial is not an isolated case. Just this past week a National Review Online reporter wrote an investigative piece about the shady operations of several Florida abortion clinics operated by the same team of abortion providers. It was another gruesome tale of a poorly qualified medical staff with bad habits providing substandard care in an industry that doesn't get challenged much. In the Florida situation, a 17-year-old girl was "thoroughly mangled;" at least one baby was allegedly delivered alive, then murdered; and first responders said baby corpses were stored in bags or boxes behind chairs in the recovery room, flies buzzing around a few of them. State regulators admitted they did not do inspections of Florida clinics.
Here are other stories, some recent, some from last year -- and this is not an exhaustive search:
- Two Planned Parenthood clinic nurses cited "ridiculously unsafe" conditions as the reason they quit working for a Delaware clinic, according to an ABC News affiliate last month.
- Viriginia abortionists are fussing about new state regulations and the alleged threat they pose, though the rules seem very reasonable. For example, clinics are required to have an agreement with hospitals so they'll treat women suffering from botched abortion procedures; and clinics have to meet cleanliness and safety standards. Abortionists say the regulations aren't necessary. However, inspections resulting from these supposedly unnecessary regulations turned up some major problems this year.
- Two Chicago abortion clinics were closed after the state performed its first clinic inspections in 15 years, the Huff Post reported last year. One clinic owner called the inspections "unfair," and said she felt victimized by the surprise inspection.
- In Maryland, a young woman lost her baby, and her life, at a clinic which had been licensed without ever receiving an inspection, according to a report last year.
"In Delaware, abortion clinics are not subject to routine inspections. The state only steps in when they have a patient complaint. Planned Parenthood is essentially in charge of inspecting itself."That is our situation in Washington State. It should make us all feel uneasy. In Washington State, abortion clinics are not inspected by the Department of Health, unless a complaint is filed. Regulation is supposed to be done by Planned Parenthood. Doesn't this seem a lot like asking the publisher of a "skin magazine" to chair a committee regulating pornography? It just doesn't make sense, unless your aim is to leave things alone and not cause any trouble for the industry.
It's funny that the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) tries to say that all these mutilations, and infant deaths, and unsanitary clinics are precisely the reason NOT to regulate clinics. Really! We're to believe that their way is better, and we're to ignore the growing evidence showing that they've failed to police themselves. They try to scare us into acceptance, breathlessly proclaiming that any regulation will take us back to the pre-Roe v. Wade days, the "back alley" abortion days, when they say women were denied safe and clean abortions.
Strange. If the goal is to make sure abortions are "safe and clean," as their spokesperson said, having a neutral agency regulating and inspecting abortion clinics seems like a no-brainer. Sadly, NARAL and others like them are more about protecting abortion than protecting women; and of course, the babies are not to be considered at all.
In 2011, more than 20,000 abortions were reported in Washington; there are probably 1.2 million in the United States in a given year, according to Planned Parenthood's own research agency, the Guttmacher Institute. This is a serious women's health issue, far too serious to be left in the hands of those with a vested interest in covering up any problems. So bring on the congressional committee investigation; and then bring on the inspections. It's about time.