Thursday, March 03, 2016

Supreme Court Abortion Clinic Case

There's a case in front of the Supreme Court right now about a law in Texas that will make all abortion clinics have to meet the same requirements as ambulatory surgical centers.

Let's start with the fact that I am very pro-life. I'm an MD (not practicing right now). I've never performed abortions, but I've delivered lots of babies! I don't want to see any elective abortions happen at all. But, I disagree with this current approach to reducing abortions by making abortion clinics abide by a higher standard of medical care. I've watched videos about these laws and they claim to be "for the safety of women" and "for women's health". Let's look at that.

The first requirement is that the treating physician would have to have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital. While that would be ideal, it's not necessary. Texas law requires that abortions not be done past 20 weeks gestation, so these procedures are generally low-risk to the mother. The physicians doing the abortions or prescribing the medications do not require the surgical skills to handle potential (and quite rare) complications. Local hospitals are required to see any patient who presents with an emergency complaint and provide them with the appropriate care. And, apparently, most docs already have privileges.

The bill then requires all abortion clinics to meet the level of medical care and safety standards of an ambulatory care center. The problem is that abortions are not an invasive procedure like many of those performed in an ambulatory care center. Women getting a first trimester abortion do not require airway management or general anesthesia. Gurneys are not wheeled from room to room requiring full 8 foot wide hallways as in ambulatory care centers. Young, otherwise healthy women don't need negative pressure rooms. A backup generator is not necessary for a clinic performing abortions, a short, elective procedure.

The Texas bill gives one reason for these changes as wanting to prevent a situations like the Dr. Gosnell clinic in Pennsylvania. However, there are plenty of laws in place in Pennsylvania to have prevented the poor clinic conditions and deaths that occurred in Dr. Gosnell's clinic. The issue was that his clinic went without inspection for 17 years!! 

Why am I not happy that this bill is shutting down abortion clinics in Texas? Because it is shutting them down for the wrong reason and getting the government into practicing medicine where it shouldn't be.

If we want to stop abortion, we need to provide comprehensive sex education and contraception. And, that may require keeping Planned Parenthood around because other health clinics aren't able to pick up the slack. Abortions have declined about 13% from 2008 to 2011, so we're already making some progress.

And, let's be honest here. All these new requirements for the Texas clinics (and in any other states that are thinking about requiring them) aren't for "women's health"; they are to decrease women's access to abortion. If they were for women's health, they would be looking at every single procedure done in an office clinic to decide if it should be done in an ambulatory care center - for the patient's health. 

If we are pro-life, let's say that we are pro-life. We want to stop abortion because the fetus is a new and separate life from the mother and deserves to live. When we say this, we need to then be prepared to support mom and baby not just to birth (that would be pro-birth), but through childhood and beyond if that's what it takes. If this family needs help for this child to get a good education and have food on the table, we who are pro-life had sure better be willing to help. After all, we're the ones who are telling the moms that God wants that baby to live. And I'm betting God wants us to be part of that.

Let's stand up for moms and babies at all stages of life. Love the families, even after birth. And quit with this nonsense of pretending that making abortion "safer" is your agenda. Say what you mean.

Your thoughts? Be civil, but say what you think.



Luke Holzmann said...

Saw the John Oliver bit on this, and, yeah. I'm with you. Let's actually do what we mean to do, not use other features to try to get at our intended aim. "Hypocrisy" comes to mind here. We should be direct and intentional, not skulking in the shadows. This use of legislation is, I believe, opening the door to more problems than helping. As my wife likes to say, "Think about the precedent, not just the immediate outcome."


Catherine said...

Luke, I like your wife's statement. "Think about the precedent, not just the immediate outcome." That's good.