Reality check: what does an attack on an abortion provider look like?

An August 26 Huffington Post feature bemoans the “heavy wave of legislative attacks” on abortion providers since 2010. “Incredibly dramatic,” said the Guttmacher Institute. “This has turned into a nightmare,” said a spokeswoman for NARAL’s Arizona affiliate.

No dispute here that legislation at the state level has been a factor in the closure of over fifty abortion facilities since 2010. But “attacks”? I’d hate to see that word go the way of “choice,” almost denuded of meaning in the hands of abortion promoters.

Some attacks (real ones) on abortion providers:

  • John Salvi shot and murdered two abortion facility workers, Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols, in 1994. In a bizarre turn of events, his conviction for those crimes was overturned after he committed suicide in 1996; a judge ruled that his conviction could not stand since he died before his appeals were exhausted.
  • George Tiller, a physician famed for performing late-term abortions, was shot and wounded in 1993 by Shelley Shannon.  Tiller was murdered in 2009 by Scott Roeder. Shannon and Roeder were both convicted.
  • David Gunn, physician and abortion provider, was murdered by Michael Griffin in 1993. Griffin was convicted.

These are only a few grim examples of what real attacks look like. Other abortion industry workers have been victims of the violence that is just as outrageous and sickening outside the procedure room door as it is inside.

…as opposed to “attacks” (phony ones) on abortion providers:

  • Laws requiring that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. If a provider has to change her or his business model to accommodate this one, fine with me.
  • Laws permitting parents to be notified when an underage daughter seeks an abortion. Objections to this one always amaze me. In my own state of New Hampshire, the law is for notification, not consent; it has a judicial bypass; and any provider who certifies an emergency can do the abortion without prior notification to the pregnant adolescent’s parents. All the years I attended and testified at hearings in Concord on this matter, I heard abortion providers complain that this is unnecessary intrusion on “choice” as well as an attempt to undermine Roe v. Wade. The U.S. Supreme Court, despite changes in personnel since 1973, disagrees with that claim.
  • Fetal homicide laws, allowing prosecution of a person causing the death of a woman’s preborn, wanted child. Drunk drivers and abusive boyfriends everywhere have friends in abortion advocates, who oppose such laws.
  • Laws requiring abortion facilities to be treated as ambulatory care facilities for purposes of inspection and licensing. If my daughter were hemorrhaging in the “recovery” room after an abortion, I wouldn’t be happy if the facility’s owners had decided against widening doorways to accommodate gurneys. Inspection and licensing, taken seriously, would also give some credibility to claims by abortion apologists like Nancy Pelosi that Gosnell was an outlier.
  • 24-hour waiting periods. Last time New Hampshire considered an informed consent law that included such a provision, I listened to abortion providers warn that a waiting period would be a hardship for rural women. What they didn’t say, but came through loud and clear nonetheless, was that drive-through abortions are fine: same-day pregnancy test, counseling, and abortion, followed by the long drive home. “By the time women come in, they already know what they want,” said one provider at the legislative hearing. That makes abortion sound like buying shoes. But I digress: no, a 24-hour wait is not an attack on providers.
  • Statistics collection. Demanding that every abortion provider give an accurate report of activity is a matter of public health, not a matter of picking on the provider. Every objection to this sounds to me like “but we like it here in the dark.”

Whose right is it, anyway?

All the laws I cited have something in common: they don’t ban abortion. In fact, they assume that abortion is legal and ongoing. No woman can be denied her right to abort – not even an adolescent female, who can bypass parents. True, a few states – not my own, yet – are putting in place post-20-week bans. It’s a fact, though, that abortion advocates draw no distinction between a ban and a regulation. This overlooks one small point: Roe v. Wade invented a women’s constitutional right to abort, but it did not invent a right for abortionists to operate without oversight.

“TRAP laws,” say the abortion promoters: Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers. “Gynoticians” (neologism of the year, hands down), says PP, mocking elected representatives who put the interests of women and children ahead of big business (and make no mistake, abortion is big business). Catchy. Terms like those make for snappy web graphics and fundraising emails. What they don’t do is tell the truth. Reporting on post-abortion complications is a TRAP? Passing a law to promote parental involvement in minors’ health decisions makes one a “gynotician”?

Enough with the trendy terms. Forcing a change in a business model is not an “attack.” Accounting for complications is not an “attack.” Save the word for when it matters. Real attacks come when abortion providers are murdered, women undergo abortion without fully informed consent, and children are scraped to bits.

I can’t leave the HuffPost article without mentioning its accompanying infographic, or rather its explanatory note. “Source: Huffington Post survey of state health departments, abortion providers, and local abortion-focused advocacy groups.” Does that include the state health departments that depend on voluntary reporting from abortion providers to derive abortion stats for the state?  Can’t tell. The numbers are therefore fuzzy. But trying to clarify them would probably be construed as an attack.

2 thoughts on “Reality check: what does an attack on an abortion provider look like?

  1. Thanks for this information. But you left something out – can you please give the complications/death rates for legal abortions that show why all these changes are necessary? According to the Guttmacher Institute, less than 1% of abortions result in complications, which makes it a safer procedure than many other outpatient surgeries e.g. colonoscopy. So please explain why abortion needs all these expensive changes and admitting procedures but other types of day surgery don’t? Avoid anecdotes if possible. Because looking at the facts, these changes are a direct attack on women’s right to choose, without offering any medical or health benefits to women at all. Also, when you say that abortion is “big business”, I’d be interested to see your comparison of the cost of an abortion (about $451) versus a D&C procedure at a normal US hospital. Because it’s really hard to see where the big profits are coming from.

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