Business as Usual in Texas?
As might be expected, today’s abortion news feed was a clean sweep for Texas. All ten headlines carried stories of yesterday’s judicial ruling—which blocked some of Texas’ newly passed abortion regulations from going into effect. Supporters of the legislation have already filed an appeal, while its opponents complain that Judge Lee Yeakel’s ruling didn’t go far enough—leaving some regulations still in place. The most significant requirement, that all abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital, was struck down—leaving the 12 or so Texas abortion clinics that do not have such privileges open for business. The requirement that abortion clinics strictly follow FDA protocol when administering medical abortions was partially overturned when Judge Yeakel ruled that, "The medication abortion provision may not be enforced against any physician who determines, in appropriate medical judgment, to perform the medication-abortion using off-label protocol for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.” Finally, the prohibition against abortion after 20 weeks and the requirement (starting in October 2014) that all abortions be performed in surgical facilities were upheld.
For as much thought and vocational energy as I give to the issue of abortion, my day-to-day activities are almost entirely apolitical. I’ve said that before, but I think it still surprises people—those who envision me scouring the news wire for anything related to abortion and living or dying with every abortion-related verdict. In reality, I follow stories like yesterday’s ruling in Texas much as anyone would—casually and from a distance. It’s not that I’m disinterested in the subject matter, of course. I just don't have much faith in the legislative tug-of-war that takes place on the fringes. In a very real sense, these state-sponsored abortion initiatives are part of a giant, carefully-orchestrated charade—a necessary charade, perhaps, but a charade nonetheless. It makes for some complicated subplots.
Here's what I mean. By and large, the lawmakers behind the state-level efforts to better regulate the abortion industry are staunch abortion opponents. Most would readily concede that, if given the choice, they would rather eliminate abortion than limit abortion. Their talking points (by necessity?) center on women's health and safety, but it's easy to decipher their main objective: to reduce the number of abortions. Abortion, after all, can never be made safe. No matter how well-regulated, every successful abortion kills an innocent human being. The sponsors know this. And so they must also know that at some point the charade will have to be given up. No matter how successful incremental, "compromise" legislation proves to be, it will never influence abortion beyond the statistical edges. It must eventually give way to an open and unmasked critique of abortion itself. Modestly reducing its frequency will never be enough. The question then becomes, are we losing credibility by playing these cat-and-mouse games over abortion safety? Or are they simply an application of our mandate to be innocent as doves and shrewd as serpents? The English slave-trade after all was largely done in by a technicality.
Either way, it puts judges like Lee Yeakel in a difficult position. And though we might be tempted to criticize Judge Yeakel's ruling, there are reasons to sympathize with him as well. His primary assertion after all was that "admitting privileges [do] nothing to further the interest of patient care." In other words, hospitals are going to admit and care for a woman dying from a botched abortion whether the abortionist has admitting privileges or not. To my knowledge, this is entirely true. A lack of formal admission privileges does not make abortion materially more dangerous for the mother. The real danger is that abortionists seem only to resort to emergency hospital care as a means of last resort, and at least some (see here and here) won't do so even then.
I had never heard of Judge Yeakel until today, and the only substantive thing revealed about him in the news coverage is that he was appointed by President George W. Bush. As such, I'm guessing that he is politically conservative. There is an excellent chance that he is ideologically opposed to abortion. And yet he struck down a key portion of the new abortion restrictions on the conviction that it was dishonest and/or superfluous. Do we applaud his honesty or condemn his interference? Unfortunately, liberal judges are frequently willing to rule on the basis of personal ideology. Conservative judges rarely do. And any judge who opposes abortion finds him or herself in the unenviable position of upholding an entirely unjust law. These are the tensions created by the backdoor challenges to abortion.
Saying all that, it's still fair to wonder why abortion advocates so vehemently oppose any and all abortion-related regulations. As Kermit Gosnell recently reminded us, the political protection afforded to abortion clinics opens the door to massive opportunities for negligence and abuse. On this question, it is the abortion industry's turn to engage in some double-speak. And just like those on the other side of the abortion divide, they appeal to women's safety. Louise Melling, speaking for the ACLU, expressed frustration that Judge Yeakel did not overturn the requirement that all abortions be performed in a surgical facility, declaring that it "ignores accepted medical practice and will force providers to use less safe methods.” Reading between the lines, it's easy to see what the abortion industry's real concern is. Being required to follow FDA provisions for the administration of medical abortions means they won't be able to perform them so far into pregnancy, and they'll have to bring women in for each step of the process—instead of leaving them to finish the abortion themselves at home. These restrictions unquestionably make the procedure safer for the mother. But it also makes it less convenient and more time time-consuming. As such, Planned Parenthood won't be able to perform as many abortions. Safety has nothing to do with it.
So, what's the take away from all of this? If you're on the fence about abortion, I'm hoping it will be this. Underneath all the posturing about women's health and safety, it's fair to wonder why abortion clinics find it so difficult to gain admitting privileges to a local hospital. It may be an unnecessary requirement, as it relates to the safety of abortion, but shouldn't a local "doctor" be able to garner such privileges with relative ease? Yes, they should. The reason it's not easy for many abortion clinics to secure such privileges is because abortionists tend not to be local, and they're not doctors—not in any classic sense of the word. Doctors heal. Abortionists kill. The abortion clinic at the center of the AP story, Lubbock's Planned Parenthood Women's Health Center, flies its abortionist in every Thursday from East Texas. Think about that. Abortion is sold as a decision between a woman, her family, and her doctor. And yet close to 95% of U.S. abortions are performed in abortion clinics, by "doctors" who have likely never met the mother before and may not even live in the same region or state.Beth Shapiro, chairwoman for the Lubbock Planned Parenthood, points out that hospitals don't give admitting privileges to out-of-town "doctors." She further points out that hospitals with religious affiliations are averse to abortionists in general, while even secular hospitals often don't want to be associated with them. Finally, she concludes, "I don't see why local hospitals would give privileges to someone who's not going to admit patients." Here again, abortionists aren't in the business of caring for patients; they're in the business of terminating the lives of unborn children.
What does it say about the abortion industry that they struggle to find local physicians willing to perform their grisly services? What does it say about the abortion industry that so many hospitals want nothing to do with it? What does it say about the abortion industry that they rely on carpetbag "physicians" who have no prior relationship with the mothers of whose children they kill? In defense of the restrictions struck down in Texas, whether they're necessary or not, why should the law bend over backwards to accommodate a profession that can’t adhere to normal medical protocol? At this point, it's helpful to follow the money. Those pushing for increased abortion regulations have a clear and vested interest in eliminating abortion altogether. That's their bias. Those pushing against increased abortion regulations—namely Planned Parenthood—have a clear and vested interest in making lots of money. Once the biases are out on the table, isn't it fairly obvious which one is the more appropriate and credible?
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. You can also find him on Facebook and Google+. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.