By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Director of Education & Research
By now, you’ve probably seen whatever is the latest story on another three (or whatever number) clinics closing in Texas (or whatever other state but usually Texas), attributed to “onerous” clinic regulations, limitations on “webcam abortions,” or laws that ban aborting babies who are capable of feeling pain. The transparently obvious aim is to roll out these “horror stories” to generate sympathy for all those deprived of “basic reproductive health services.”
Put aside for the moment how many of these stories are actually based on fact (e.g., there were claims of clinic closures in Texas from the law before the law had even taken effect!), or how many of these “news” stories were propaganda pieces generated by abortion lobby and their cooperative allies in the media.
The pro-abortion side wants people to think that these unnecessary laws will have no effect. These women will get abortions anyway— it’s just that they will turn to black market chemical abortions, typically (we’re told) with pills brought in from Mexico.
Three questions. Why did they close? What are the real consequences when an abortion clinic does close? And why—even before there is a pro-life law—do some women choose to get their abortion pills under the table from some shady border town flea market stall?
And just to state the obvious contradiction–does it make sense for the abortion lobby to claim the laws have no impact and at the same time to hold those laws responsible for so many past and potential clinic closures?
This begs the original question: why are they closing? A real answer looks at the economics of the abortion industry and the fact there are some pro-abortionists who are so radical that the health and safety of pregnant women appears to be of no concern.
Before going further, there’s another element in the equation that needs to be considered. When an abortion clinic closes, it’s obviously a very good thing that women decide they’d rather carry their babies. But if a couple of small abortion operations shut down so that a giant regional abortion mega-clinic with ten times the killing capacity can open, that’s hardly an improvement. This is something we have written about at NRL News Today in the past most recently last December: clinic consolidation.
For example, Planned Parenthood has opened up more than a dozen giant mega-centers in just the last five years. These huge facilities boast shiny new buildings with designer interiors, private parking and entrances, appealing to a wealthier clientele while still offering access to those arriving on public transportation. These huge clinics take the place of smaller (and less profitable) abortion clinics, some of them affiliated with Planned Parenthood but some not.
It is therefore no surprise and no accident that while recent data shows that the overall number of abortions (and, yes, abortion clinics) have thankfully been declining, Planned Parenthood has been increasing the number of abortions it performs.
So what do clinic regulation laws do? If the clinic is second or third rate, they could choose to close their doors rather than allow the public to find out how many of these “medical” facilities are poorly staffed, decrepit, unsanitary, poorly equipped, bizarrely configured, and ill prepared to handle inevitable complications.
This could help explain why some of these clinics close before clinic regulation laws actually take effect. Perhaps because they don’t want to wait for the state health inspector to come around and prepare a public report on what the actual clinic conditions are and prompt a scandal that could taint the abortion industry as a whole. Easier to preemptively close and blame the lawmakers who are attempting to protect the public interest while the circuit riding abortionist makes his money elsewhere.
The “brand” name, which would otherwise suffer, is maintained at the same time they blame pro-life laws for driving them out of business. The larger abortion chains can use the whole incident as an occasion to raise money to fight such laws and build bigger, newer clinics.
Let’s get back to the insistence by abortion advocates that laws regulating how chemical abortions are administered “force” women to seek abortion pills (typically the anti-ulcer drug misoprostol used alone) on the black market. (Don’t forget that misoprostol is usually the second half of a two drug abortifacient tandem that begins with“RU-486” or mifepristone: mifepristone to kill the baby and misoprostol is used to induce contractions to expel the dead baby.) The sources, according to pro-abortion advocates, include flea-markets and people selling drugs across the border.
This conveniently leaves out an extremely critical fact. As we have written about before, there is a wing of the pro-abortion movement that has been actively and aggressively promoting the off-label use of these same pills in countries that have strong pro-life laws as well as in America. As always they’ve been aided and abetted by sympathetic reporters and columnists.
Consider as far back as the August 29, 2000, an article ran in the Village Voice publicizing the underground use of the “star pill” (misoprostol). Add to that the promotion of a misoprostol protocol by the international abortion advocate group Gynuity in 2003 and a July 31, 2010, column by New York Times’ Nicholas D. Kristoff celebrating “Another Pill That Could Cause a Revolution.” Those (and many others) are separate from the hotlines set up by Women on Waves around the world advising women how they can obtain misoprostol and use it to self-abort.
Ponder this for a moment. The promoters of chemical abortions from the very beginning envisioned its use as part of a solution to the “demographic” problem in the world. In an immensely complicated interaction and exercise in mutual support, elite newspapers and universities and well known manufacturers of abortion equipment like IPAS and ultra-radical groups like Women on Waves send the message that there are safe and easy to obtain “alternatives” to surgical abortion, even (especially!) if women live in countries where abortion is not legal.
But that includes very dangerous chemical regimens. Instead of the expensive RU-486 pills that may be hard to bring into some countries, several groups are promoting the use of the considerably cheaper prostaglandin misoprostol (as noted above, normally used in the second step of a RU-486/PG abortion) as a standalone abortifacient.
Misoprostol has other non-abortifacient uses (e.g., as an anti-ulcer drug). Even where misoprostol cannot be officially prescribed for abortion, women can either get it on the black market or obtain a prescription for other legitimate medical purposes.
It isn’t just the population control people from New York City, though. In November of 2013 (11/20/13), Slate on-line magazine ran an interview with Lester Minto, a Texas abortionist complaining about the new laws. Minto all but did a commercial for misoprostol, saying that while he couldn’t do abortions any more,
“I tell them that I know that there are other things that people do… they go over the border to Mexico and go to a pharmacy and buy misoprostol at a pharmacy. It is an ulcer drug, but it works as an abortifacient. It is not as effective [as] mifepristone, which is the on-label medicine used in the U.S. But in these ladies’ situations, misoprostol can be a good choice.”
Put these campaigns together and ask yourself whether it is pro-lifers or the abortion industry and its allies that is pushing these pills on desperate women.
It is revealing (but not surprising) that all these mainstream media stories spend a lot of time publicizing the off-label use of misoprostol, telling women how and where to get them, but little if any time telling women of the sort of free, practical, personal help that is available for women at their local pregnancy care centers.
Perhaps it never occurs to them, but the abortion industry’s own data show that one of the things that happens when clinics close is that women decide to have their babies!
Guttmacher’s latest round of abortion statistics showed us that an enormous portion of the 13% drop in abortions that occurred between 2008 and 2011 was pegged to about 150,000 fewer abortions being done at abortion mills that perform a thousand or more abortions a year. Some 47 of these high volume clinics dropped off the radar and went missing from the count over that time span. The closure of those clinics was obviously connected to a smaller number of abortions.
We also know, from results of University of California-San Francisco’s “Turnaway” study released in 2012 that within just one week of being “denied” an abortion, more than a third (35%) were no longer willing to say that having an abortion would have been the right decision. This is among women who were just a week before actively seeking out an abortion.
We also know that after having the baby, 86% of these women were living with their child and nearly six in ten (59%) were reporting their relationships as good or very good. This was so, even though the women involved in the study represented a younger, poorer demographic.
The point is clear, however. Many women who start out seeking an abortion change their minds when that option is no longer readily available to them, no longer being pushed on them by the friendly, “objective” sales counselors at the clinics. Those babies live, and their mothers are spared the risk and indignity of abortion.
That one positive outcome of these abortion clinic closures is no dead baby and no wounded mother does not seem to occur to many of those spreading alarm over the latest closure of some dirty old abortion clinic.
The closure of substandard facilities with inadequately trained personnel and the requirement that a physician be physically present when a pregnant woman receives the chemical abortifacients is in the general public interest. But our primary aim is, unapologetically, stopping the killing.
Seeing a dingy, dilapidated clinic with a handful of “customers” close only to see a large new shiny abortion mega-clinic take its place killing thousands of babies a year is not and could never be our objective.
The real issue is whether saving or taking lives is the legitimate function of medicine. And abortion is clearly not good medicine.
The truth is many of these communities would probably benefit from a clinic that offered genuine medical care instead of just thinly disguised killing for profit. If these laws were to refocus these clinicians’ minds and energies into more constructive, healing tasks, that would be a good thing
Yet it is because so many of these providers have forgotten that the preservation of life, rather than its destruction, is the proper purpose of medicine, that they have grown so slack and cavalier and callous in their practices and have long tolerated such intolerable conditions.
When a “health” clinic is taking, rather than preserving lives, it’s time for that clinic to close.