By Denise Burke
Originally published in the National Review Online on December 13, 2016.
For more than four decades, the abortion industry has engaged in an unrelenting and corrupt crusade to force a regime of unapologetic, unregulated, and unrestricted abortion-on-demand on an unwilling American public. In pursuit of this goal, abortion advocates have repeatedly advanced misinformation and have often recruited others to participate in their remorseless campaign of dishonesty.
The most prominent and influential target of this strategic manipulation is the Supreme Court, which delighted abortion advocates in June when it struck down Texas’s requirements that abortion clinics comply with medically endorsed health and safety standards and that abortion providers maintain hospital admitting privileges to facilitate emergency care and the treatment of post-abortion complications.
Writing for the majority in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Justice Stephen Breyer, relying on the abortion industry’s deceptive and financially motivated arguments, concluded that the Texas regulations would not “have helped even one woman obtain better treatment” and that “abortions taking place in an abortion facility are safe.”
Unsafe: How the Public Health Crisis in America’s Abortion Clinics Endangers Women, a new investigative report released this week by Americans United for Life, convincingly demonstrates that the Supreme Court’s claim that abortion clinics are “safe” qualifies as the lie of the year. The report documents that in Texas alone, at least 17 abortion providers have recently been cited by state officials for violations of health and safety standards, including, ironically, five clinics operated by Whole Woman’s Health, the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case.
Evidence collected from 32 states on hundreds of abortion clinics and dozens of individual abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood facilities, proves that the practice of abortion has devolved into the “red light district” of American medicine and is populated by substandard providers. Unsafe is both a snapshot in time, focusing on abortion practice since 2008, and the tip of the proverbial iceberg, aptly demonstrating a nationwide pattern of abuse that characterizes an industry fighting to keep profits high and standards low.
The abortion industry vociferously argues that it should be granted an unmerited exemption from standards routinely applied to other facilities performing invasive surgical procedures, as well as an exemption from the comprehensive inspections to which such facilities are routinely subjected. But Unsafe documents in detail that the most common violations found in America’s abortion clinics include failing to ensure a safe and sanitary environment, allowing unqualified staff to provide care to patients, utilizing expired medications and medical supplies, failing to purchase and maintain necessary equipment, refusing to adopt and follow internal health and safety protocols, and failing to comply with physical-plant standards. The study uncovers hundreds of significant violations of these and other commonsense health and safety standards that have taken place just in the past eight years.
Shockingly, at least 65 of the abortion providers examined were chronic offenders who had been cited multiple times for the same violations in subsequent inspections. Further, at least 13 abortion providers either failed to report suspected sexual abuse of minors or failed to implement practices to protect minors from ongoing abuse; at least 30 abortion providers failed to provide or post all required informed-consent information; and more than two dozen abortion clinics failed to comply with abortion reporting requirements.
Significantly, efforts to discern the true state of abortion practice in most states were stymied by a dearth of protective laws in a number of states, a lack of reporting in others, and limited public availability of information on abortion providers in still more states. We can easily deduce, therefore, that the epidemic of substandard abortion practice is worse than Unsafe reveals.
In the days after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hellerstedt, abortion advocates claimed it was “game over” for health and safety standards designed to protect women from abortion-industry abuses. However, Americans will never abandon women to the whims of the predatory and profit-motivated abortion industry.
The Hellerstedt decision is not a censure of legislative efforts to expose and remedy abortion’s negative maternal-health consequences; instead, it explicitly challenges state officials and caring Americans to better document the epidemic of inferior care being provided in America’s abortion clinics. Unsafe does exactly that.
As lawmakers prepare for a new Congress and the 2017 state legislative sessions, Unsafe provides critical support for those who aim to further expose the depravity of the abortion industry. The study’s disturbing findings show that we must step up our efforts to protect women and their unborn children from the dangers inherent in abortion, and ensure that the abortion industry never realizes its dream of unfettered access to substandard abortion clinics, meaningless self-regulation, and ever-increasing profits at the expense of the very women it claims to champion. Sadly, it also demonstrates that the abortion industry has successfully conspired to make a liar of the Supreme Court.
Denise Burke is the vice president of legal affairs with Americans United for Life.