By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D.
NRLC Director of Education & Research
Once the announcement was made that Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH) would merge with and Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma, Rose Mimms, the executive director of Arkansas Right to Life, called upon National Right to Life president Carol Tobias and myself to speak at a press conference to help the people of Arkansas get a better idea of what they were infor.
Mrs. Tobias flew down to Little Rock to join Mrs. Mimms (see http://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2011/07/arkansas-rtl-and-national-rtl-hold-press-conference-to-warn-of-dangers-of-new-planned-parenthood-merger)
To make sure we covered as much of the state as possible, it was decided that I would join Arkansas Right to Life president Wayne Mays via Skype at a simultaneous press conference in Springdale, Arkansas.
The appearance via Skype was to help illustrate the reach of the web-cam technology PPH has been using to market chemical abortions at smaller clinics. As you know, under the web-cam system, an abortionist, maybe from a clinic in a large urban center, communicates with a woman at a remote location by means of a video conferencing system.
After a brief screening and counseling session, he clicks a mouse and triggers the opening of a drawer from which the woman takes out the two drugs that make up the “RU-486” chemical abortion regimen: mifepristone and misoprostol.
As I remarked in my statement, reproduced below, there is no real substitute for physical presence, something critical when dealing with a risky medical procedure like a chemical abortion where hemorrhage, a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, or a deadly infection are all documented possible outcomes.
I am Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, Director of Education and Research for the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund, and I’ve been following the activities of Planned Parenthood, the national organization, and this particular affiliate, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, for a number of years.
Over the past decade or so, I’ve seen how the national corporation, the nation’s largest abortion chain, today responsible for over a quarter of all abortions done in the United States, has been remaking itself. It has closed unprofitable clinics, pruned unnecessary executives and expensive middle management, allowed its larger, more successful affiliates to devour smaller ones, and then built giant new abortion megaclinics with all the latest designer features, all designed to reach out to new clientele, grab a bigger market share, increase its influence, and expand its abortion empire.
These changes have enabled Planned Parenthood not only to become a billion dollar a year corporation but to steadily increase the number of abortions its performs even while abortions have declined by about 25% in the U.S.
And perhaps no affiliate epitomizes this new aggressive stance than the affiliate involved in this latest merger here in Arkansas, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH).
PPH first garnered my attention in 1995 when, under its previous incarnation as Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, it was involved in the U.S. trials of RU486, the abortion pill.
What had happened was this: Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa was quoted in the paper announcing that the trials of the abortion pill had been successfully completed in Iowa with “no complications.”
The article caught the attention of an area doctor who knew this simply wasn’t true. He responded back in his own local newspaper, indicating that he had treated one of PPGI’s RU486 patients at his ER, having to perform emergency surgery to save her life.
“If near death due to the loss of half on one’s blood volume, surgery, and a transfusion of four units of blood do not qualify as a complication,” said Dr. Mark Louviere in the Waterloo Courier (9/24/95), “I don’t know what does.”
PPGI’s president Jill June – the very same executive who heads PPH today – told the Des Moines Register that “no complications refers to the trial – that the trial was conducted successfully – and not to the condition of the participants.”
This is just the sort of spin you can expect from PPH and Jill June, who incidentally, was the national organization’s “Ruth Green Award” recipient in 1998 for her exemplary work as a chief executive.
Jill June and PPH have been aggressive promoters of chemical abortions in Iowa, most recently with their latest dangerous and deadly innovation, the “web-cam” abortion.
The web-cam abortion involves an abortionist at some central clinic hub connecting via closed circuit monitor with a client at some remote location, possibly a hundred miles away or more. Those women will be screened and “counseled’ by the abortionist, but will never be actually physically examined by him.
If he is satisfied with her answers and information, he will click a mouse on his own computer that opens a drawer at the woman’s location, revealing bottles of RU486 and misoprostol, a prostaglandin given to finish off the abortion. She takes the RU486 there in that Planned Parenthood branch office and then the misoprostol a couple of days later at home.
It sounds rather simple, but it isn’t.
Even for those women for whom the procedure is “successful,” the next few days are physically and psychologically harrowing, as she begins to violently cramp and bleed profusely, more than she would from a surgical abortion, in a process that TIME magazine in 1994 called, “painful, messy, and protracted.” When it ends, if it ends, it often does so with a woman encountering her dead child, a memory that could haunt her the rest of her life.
For some women, the abortion is over in a few days or a couple of weeks. Others may bleed for a month or more. Diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea and often part of the package. And that’s when things go well.
But things don’t go well for many women. Some begin to hemorrhage, others get a fever. The pain becomes well nigh unbearable for many. Where is their web-cam doctor now, when they need emergency help, like that woman from Iowa? How far is their nearest ER? Will the doctors there know what do with a chemical abortion gone horribly wrong? Will anyone be conscious to tell them what is happening?
Women who have taken these drugs under more strict medical supervision than this have died from virulent infections, from the rupture of previously undetected ectopic pregnancies, and have bled to death. Hundreds more have ended up hospitalized or requiring emergency surgery for the same conditions. Yet PPH simply takes these women’s money and logs off the web-cam, leaving these with perhaps nothing more than a hotline where she can call for more remote control medical assistance.
The problem isn’t telemedicine per se. If, say, an emergency tracheotomy is needed to prevent a person from suffocating in a matter of minutes, it would make sense to avail oneself of a telemedical option, to have an expert physician guide one through a lifesaving procedure. Or if it were a minor thing, with no real immediate serious repercussions, such as a sore throat or a bump on the arm that needs to be looked at, it is perfectly fine to go the telemedical route.
But when the procedure is totally elective, medically unnecessary, and when the risk is significant, as it is here, when several women using the drugs have died and others have had to be hospitalized, such an option is totally irresponsible.
It is one thing, however, when you’re talking about trying to use this technology for a press conference, as we are here, with a secure, sound connection, but another thing entirely when we’re talking about trying to manage the complicated medical situation of a young teen in rural Arkansas in the middle of a thunderstorm or when the satellite goes out, or later when not just the doctor, but the computer or the phone or the car or the neighbor is far away, and that young woman needs desperately to get to emergency surgery.
With the web-cam abortion, though, PPH has been able to significantly increase the number of abortions it performs, going from 2,898 abortions in 2000 to 4,492 in 2008, an increase of 55% , with chemical abortions (2,582) now exceeding surgical abortions (2,210) at PPH. At $300 to $800 a piece, that also represents a considerable increase in affiliate revenues as well (estimated total abortion income $1.34 -$3.6 million).
These additional abortion revenues have helped keep PPH financially strong while nearby affiliates have struggled. And so, one by one, these smaller affiliates have been gobbled up. PPH announced a merger with PP of Nebraska and Council Bluffs in August 2009, another with PP E Central Iowa in December 2010, a merger with PP SW Iowa in May 201, and finally this latest merger with PP of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma.
Some might ask – well, PP already has a clinic here in Fayetteville, and one in Little Rock, and they already do chemical abortions, so what difference will it make.
The answer is “plenty.”
Shortly after acquiring the Nebraska affiliate, PPH announced plans, now being carried out, to consolidate two older clinics in Lincoln and to build a giant new, state of the art abortion clinic. It also announced plans to open six new clinics in Nebraska and another six in Iowa.
Nebraska’s legislature forestalled the expansion of web-cam abortions into their state with a bill signed into law in May, and Oklahoma has a law in place that will prevent their expansion there. But Arkansas does not.
That will make it very easy for PPH to set up a new central abortion mega-clinic in the state with several new satellite clinics in smaller cities and towns reached by web-cam abortionists. Chemical abortions will increase, just as they did in Iowa, with thousands more innocent unborn children dying. And the lives of the state’s young women will be put at risk. Look for unexplained increases in the visits of teens to your local ERs.
After all, never forget that Planned Parenthood is in the abortion business. The national organization says that abortion represents only 3% of its services (misleading, as we have demonstrated many times). Nevertheless at going rates, numbers indicate it may well be their most profitable product, accounting for at least 37% of its total national clinic revenues. The revenues at PPH may be comparable.
So what are PPH’s plans for Arkansas? What clinics will PPH close and what employees will PPH let go? What new clinics are planned for the state and what place does PPH see for web-cam abortions in Arkansas’ future? What safety procedures does PPH have in place, beyond a telephone hotline, to protect women from the inevitable risks and dangers than accompany these chemical abortions, from the hemorrhaging, the infections, the ruptured ectopic pregnancies that RU486 doesn’t treat. What practical alternatives to abortion does PPH offer? Just how often does a pregnant women going to a PPH clinic receive prenatal care or an adoption referral?
The record shows that PPH’s non-abortion options for these women are few and far between. What they bring to Arkansas is not life and hope, but death and danger. Arkansas’ women, and the precious children that they carry, deserve something far better.
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