Earlier this week, federal appeals court judges ruled to allow Missouri to enforce health laws that are facing legal challenges. Planned Parenthood says this could end abortions at their Columbia location in weeks.
Planned Parenthood constantly claims to be a key health provider, especially for women. Their new president Leana Wen is on a publicity tour right now making that assertion constantly. If that’s true, though, then why can’t Planned Parenthood ensure their clinics are held to the highest standards of health?
Its Missouri abortion facility is only one of many locations Planned Parenthood says are threatened by following exactly the same rules for similar surgical and health centers. If Planned Parenthood is really about providing women the health care they need, why can’t it manage to do so at the same level that other health providers meet?
Rather than bring their standards up to match those of health facilities, Planned Parenthood facilities often close instead — that is, if they can’t get themselves out of having to follow the same rules everyone else does. This seems to indicate Planned Parenthood is not really the health champion women need, despite their advertising to the contrary.
What Happened in Missouri
When Missouri required abortion facilities to meet standard health requirements, Planned Parenthood affiliates filed a lawsuit. PP affiliates attempted to block state requirements that doctors who perform abortions must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and that clinics meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery. This is because abortion is an internal surgical procedure.
So far, a federal appeals court is letting the regulations stand, much to Planned Parenthood’s frustration. If the requirements are enforced, the attorney for PP said one of their facilities in Columbia won’t be able to provide abortions because the doctor does not have admitting privileges with a local hospital. (Apparently he can’t get them, either, for some reason, which also makes one question his medical — no pun intended — chops.) This would leave one Planned Parenthood site as the only abortion provider in the state.
PP argues, of course, as they always have, that fewer abortion clinics are bad for women. “These requirements do nothing to help Missouri women — and, in fact, actually hurt them,” the local affiliate’s President Brandon Hill said in a statement. “If these laws are allowed to take effect, women will now have to travel farther, wait longer, and use more of their own resources to access the health care they need most — if they can get care at all.”
If you follow this logic, it suggests that the health and safety standards now applied to non-Planned Parenthood medical providers also make women travel farther, wait longer, and pay more for the procedures offered. Then the logical solution would be to end these standards across the board, not merely exempt Planned Parenthood from them.
Yet the major opposition to these standards is not all medical providers affected, but just the one that does abortions. That suggests the truth is that abortion is inherently dangerous and unsanitary. Or that people who go into the field are not top-shelf medical staff. And that despite its rhetoric, Planned Parenthood doesn’t care enough about women’s health to aspire to meet even basic standards for women’s safety.
Abortion Facilities Regularly Violate Health Standards
The abortion industry’s rather gruesome history of failing to offer women sanitary facilities reinforces this suspicion. For example, two years ago I reported on the health violations of an abortion facility called Virginia Health Group. The Virginia Health Department temporarily suspended their license after a two-day inspection revealed 26 deficiencies, listed in this detailed 52-page report.
“Inspectors observed, among other things: dirty equipment, unlocked and expired medication, inaccurate and absent medical records, unsterilized or improperly sterilized medical equipment, bloody gowns, and one of the physicians wearing dirty scrubs and working out of a dirty office.” If a mother wouldn’t be allowed to bring a child there to suture a split chin, or if an adult wouldn’t go there to get an antibiotic for a strep infection, why do abortion advocates feel okay sending women there for an abortion?
Of course, many folks are now aware of the gruesome story of Kermit Gosnell, the abortionist convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of three infants born alive during abortions and involuntary manslaughter in the death of a woman who wanted an abortion. When the staff from the Pennsylvania Department of State and Pennsylvania Department of Health attended the raid of Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society, in 2010, they found the office in abhorrent conditions. Here are some descriptions from the Grand Jury report.
‘Filthy,’ ‘deplorable,’ ‘disgusting,’ ‘very unsanitary, very outdated, horrendous,’ and ‘by far, the worst’ that these experienced investigators had ever encountered. There was blood on the floor. A stench of urine filled the air. A flea-infested cat was wandering through the facility, and there were cat feces on the stairs. Semi-conscious women scheduled for abortions were moaning in the waiting room or the recovery room, where they sat on dirty recliners covered with blood-stained blankets. All the women had been sedated by unlicensed staff – long before Gosnell arrived at the clinic – and staff members could not accurately state what medications or dosages they had administered to the waiting patients. Many of the medications in inventory were past their expiration dates… surgical procedure rooms were filthy and unsanitary… resembling ‘a bad gas station restroom.’ Instruments were not sterile. Equipment was rusty and outdated. Oxygen equipment was covered with dust, and had not been inspected. The same corroded suction tubing used for abortions was the only tubing available for oral airways if assistance for breathing was needed.
Clearly sanitation is not a priority for many in the abortion industry. But, again, if Planned Parenthood really cared about women’s health, they would support regulations aimed to ensure a basic level of safety for women at health centers.
Both of those stories came out before the Supreme Court released their landmark decision on abortion facility regulations. The decision essentially let abortion facilities off the hook in terms of medical standards.
In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 struck down similar rules Missouri has that were in place for abortion clinics in Texas, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In this case, the court ruled 5–3 that Texas cannot place restrictions abortion services if it creates an “undue burden” for women wanting an abortion. The vote was closer, however, and shows why issues like the one in Missouri are still ongoing.
The fact that PP is fighting Missouri’s regulations so hard suggests they really don’t care about women’s health, they care about abortions. For an organization boasting a medical doctor as their new president and women’s health as one of their priorities, this certainly seems hypocritical at best. Let’s hope, for the sake of women in Missouri, that the only care PP and other abortion affiliates may offer is health care comparable to what women would get everywhere else.