By Sarah Terzo
In an article from 1991, the New York Times wrote about rundown, sleazy “abortion mills” in New York City.
The article, written by Robert D. McFadden, described abortion in New York City this way:
“It is a shadowy business, the unregulated world of abortion mills, shabby clinics operating behind the facades of doctors’ offices, often in poor neighborhoods. Its victims are women who know little about legal rights or medical options, who have seen an ad or heard a tip and come to this … to risk butchery on a table….No one knows how many such fly-by-night surgeries there are in New York City or how many abortions they produce. But law-enforcement officials and medical experts say dozens of these clinics are believed to be tucked away behind storefronts and in more ordinary-looking doctors’ offices and they are believed responsible for scores or even hundreds of illegal or incompetent abortions annually.”
The article refers to:
“chilling secrets of sleazy abortion mills — most of them run by licensed doctors who use their offices as abortion “clinics,” but are not licensed as full-fledged abortion clinics and are thus not subject to rigorous state standards and periodic inspections.”
After giving several examples of abortion malpractice, the Time spoints out that despite multiple botched abortions causing injuries, only one New York doctor lost his license.
“Only one doctor in 1989 had a license summarily suspended for gross misconduct in an abortion….there have been only four other summary suspensions — emergency actions invoked before hearings on charges — related to abortions in the last six years — one in 1985, one in 1990 and two this year.
While the state regulates and inspects the legitimate clinics, it lacks the authority and staff to regulate and inspect doctors’ offices, and can only challenge a doctor’s license after a complaint and an investigation. And many clients, even if dissatisfied, are reluctant to file a complaint.”
This is a rare candid article from a newspaper that usually stays firmly pro-choice and, in future years, would argue against any kind of health regulations on abortion facilities.
From Robert D. McFadden, “Abortion Mills Thriving Behind Secrecy and Fear” New York Times November 24, 1991.