Abortion Clinic Licensing

IMG-20120130-00162I read the news on my phone every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to bed.  For some reason, I cannot fall asleep until I know what has happened in the world since waking, and I cannot get up in the morning until I know what has happened in the world since falling asleep.  This is a ritual that I rarely skip.

On Saturday night, the following headline actually ended up keeping me awake (along with some poor choices in terms of the amount of food I had consumed that day):

Some MN Lawmakers Want to License Abortion Clinics

Click on the title to read the news story yourself.

Interrupting myself: I identify myself as someone who is pro-life. I believe that we should avoid taking life whenever possible through abortion, war, euthanasia, and yes – even – the death penalty.  Side note: I want to support the death penalty because I am a revenge-seeker; however, it is not my revenge to seek, and I do believe that taking that life is wrong.  However,  I am not someone that you would find holding a protest sign calling a woman a “murderer” as she enters an abortion clinic.  If I were at the clinic at all, I would be there to offer an alternative, help through that choice, and love through the situation that brought her to want an abortion at all.

Back to the news: I read the article with great interest. Although I think we are a nation a long way from making abortion illegal again, I am always hopeful that limiting the scope rather than broadening scope will occur with each legislative session.  I had no idea before this news story that abortion clinics in Minnesota had no regulations to follow and no one to whom they answered.  How could this be?  Abortion is typically a surgical procedure – surely it needs regulations for safety, codes of ethics, and concern for women.

Apparently, I was wrong.  This would be new to Minnesota abortion clinics, and abortion advocates are opposed to it.  According to Linnea House, with the Minnesota Abortion Rights Action League, “this is a veiled attempt to limit access to abortions and gives the state unprecedented authority to close abortion clinics down if they have a high enough number of violations that go uncorrected for a lengthy period of time.” (Quote directly from the article).

Did I hear her correctly?  She is more concerned about clinics staying open than she is about safety?  That is what I hear when she says the state should not have the authority “to close an abortion clinic down if they have a high enough number of violations that go uncorrected for a lengthy period of time.”

Let’s think about this in some different situations.  If my child’s daycare has a “high enough number of violations that go uncorrected for a lengthy period of time,” the state has the right to close the daycare.  If a hospital has a “high enough number of violations that go uncorrected for a lengthy period of time,” the state has the right to close the hospital.  If my grandmother’s nursing home has a “high enough number of violations that go uncorrected for a lengthy period of time,” the state would have the right to close the the nursing home.

By the way, none of my grandmothers are in nursing homes – using them was merely for dramatic effect – they would all understand…and that is my digression for the day.

The point is that we take a great deal of care with our toddlers, with those in the hospital, and with our elderly.  Why would we take less care of our women in the midst of a very emotionally charged surgical procedure?  Regardless of the “side” of the abortion controversy we find ourselves situated, we all claim to be pro-woman.  I find it interesting that an advocacy group that argues minute-by-minute each day to keep abortion legal for the sake of women is opposed to regulations that would keep women safer.

Should not a clinic that has a “high enough number of violations that go uncorrected for a lengthy period of time” be closed?  I thought to myself, what could possibly be in this bill that would make anyone oppose it?  So – I looked up the bill so that I could read it for myself.  I have always been a proponent of original documents – click here to read the original document.

I read the entire bill – all twelve pages.  Thankfully, my years in online education and charter schools have taught me how to read these things.  Overwhelming and daunting are they.

What could anyone possibly oppose in this bill that is, for the most part, about safety regulations for a clinic performing a surgical “procedure”?  And then I found the issue that would cause opposition from Ms House in subsection 9.e.4  – it requires an ultrasound evaluation and a report on the status of the fetus to the mother prior to the abortion.

So – is the opposition about limiting access to women?  I do not think so.  If they want to continue to beat that drum, they certainly can, but I do not buy it.  As I stated, the opposition to safety for women cannot hold.  Regardless of where we stand on the abortion issue itself, no one should be arguing against safety in medical procedures. Our plastic surgeons must be regulated – we want safety when we are nipping and tucking – why would we not want the same safety when someone is poking around our internal women parts?

The problem has to be bigger than that.

And I assert that it is.  The problem Ms House has with the Minnesota bill is the ultrasound requirement. So then we have to ask, “Why would anyone be opposed to a woman having an ultrasound before an abortion procedure?”

The answer is simple. 

According to a spokeswoman for the Catholic Conference of Illinois, “80 percent of women (seeking abortions) who view ultrasounds of their babies decide against abortion” (quote found by clicking here).  The problem is not that the bill limits abortions; the problem is that the bill requires an ultrasound which pro-life camps assert reduces the amount of times women choose abortion.

If the pro-choice side of the debate is truly about choice, then what is wrong with women choosing not to abort?  And please do not start an argument in the comment section about how this makes women feel guilty about what they are about to do.

As a pastor’s wife, I have had the privilege of hearing from women – a few months after an abortion or many years after they an abortion – and none of them were happy about the choice they had made.  They have lived with guilt from the moment they left the clinic.  They resented the situations they were in at the time, they became adamant pro-lifers who would stand against abortion in the current political realm, and they struggled to forgive themselves for their choice.  Thankfully, there are organizations and people who welcome post-abortive women into fellowship and walk a road with them so that they can learn that forgiveness is there for them.

The abortion industry already had reason to be concerned before this bill ever came along.  According to a newspaper  article this summer, abortion rates in Minnesota are already in decline by 7-10%.  If this proponents of ultrasound use are correct with their 80% number, the abortion industry’s funding would drop substantially.  In 2003, a law went into effect in Minnesota requiring that women wait 24 hours before having an abortion; the data seems inconclusive about the impact on the abortion industry.

FYI: my tattoo artist required me to wait 7 days between consult and the “procedure.” Chew on that for a few minutes…

I have obviously rambled and lack quite a bit of coherence in all of this.  I did not set out to argue the right or wrong of abortion but rather question the opposition of making it safe or even of reducing the need for it.  I am pro-woman as well as pro-child…and actually – pro-man (it takes two to make the one, right?), and I am tired of women being lied to, hurt in procedures, and left on their own to recover – physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Seriously – what abortion clinic offers counseling afterwards and helps women learn that God forgives?

This debate could be over very easily. 

I think that we all should be about ending the need for abortions at all by looking at factors that lead women to choose it in the first place.  Society is more concerned with “taking care of the problems” through abortion than with working through the problems that make abortion attractive.  Would it not be great if we all came around women (and men) and said, “I know that this is hard.  You are not alone.  Why is abortion the choice you want to make?  If that reason was not there, would you have the baby?  We will help you through that. There are alternatives to abortion.”

That would be a great day…until then, let’s make this as safe as possible by regulating the clinics with the same vigilance we do our daycares, hospitals, and nursing homes and allowing the state to close down the ones that have a “high enough number of violations that go uncorrected for a lengthy period of time.”

Anything less than that seems unacceptable to me.

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