Yesterday the L.A. Times ran a story on a Missouri law that would regulate abortion clinics as outpatient surgical centers (Missouri abortion law under review). Andrew Schlafly, General Counsel for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, wrote an excellent point-by-point rebuttal which we believe is worth reposting in its entirety:

The L.A. Times reported Monday that “Planned Parenthood’s clinic here in central Missouri performs about 600 first-trimester abortions a year, drawing patients from areas several hours away. Surgical abortions take place in two small exam rooms as the patient, often sedated with a Valium, lies on a padded table, her feet in stirrups.” The hall is “dimly lighted” and after the abortions the mothers are taken “to a small, spare recovery room” which “is crowded, the vinyl recliners positioned so close to one another, patients could hold hands.”[1]

It is inhumane to subject mothers to such overcrowded post-abortion facilities. Planned Parenthood enjoys an annual profit of over $50 million as the United States’ largest abortion provider,[2] but a clinic pleads poverty in complying with a new Missouri law[3] requiring the same conditions for abortion patients as other surgical patients.

Though the L.A. Times article admits to the crowding, it misleads the public in several ways. The article conceals how the Missouri law applies to all abortions equally, and the federal judge’s injunction against the law has the effect of permitting second and third trimester abortions to be performed at overcrowded clinics. The judge heard arguments Monday on making his injunction permanent.

The L.A. Times quotes three individuals who benefit from the abortion industry before quoting a defense of this law: “We’re applying the same standards of healthcare to abortion clinics as we are to other medical facilities,” said Pam Fichter, development director of Missouri Right to Life.

Point-by-Point Rebuttal

Point 1: “A first-trimester surgical abortion takes about two minutes.”

False. It takes many times longer than that, even if there are no complications.[4] When incomplete, the abortion is repeated on the same mother. If there are complications, then even more is required. Some abortions are done under general anesthesia, which of course takes longer still.

Tonsillectomies and colonoscopies have been subject to this Missouri law, and they do not require any more time than abortions.

Point 2: “After, patients at the Planned Parenthood clinic here walk down a dimly lighted hall to a small, spare recovery room, where they rest in recliners, a box of tissues by each chair. Most are cleared to go home after 15 minutes.”

Misleading: Obviously patients “are cleared to go home” so quickly because the clinic is overcrowded, and early departure is needed to ease the crowding. Patients who undergo surgery other than abortion are not told to go home so quickly, and it is inhumane to treat mothers this way after abortions.

Point 3: “They have enacted the most far-reaching regulations in the nation — dictating the physical layout, staffing and record-keeping policies of any facility that performs five or more abortions a month, including private doctors’ offices that regularly prescribe the abortion pill.”

Misleading: This law is no different from what is required for other ambulatory surgery centers. The complaining Planned Parenthood clinic does surgical abortion, so the point about the abortion pill does not apply to it. As to doctors’ offices, very few prescribe this dangerous abortion pill, which causes bleeding, pain and higher complications. It is reasonable to require safe facilities of providers who do profit from abortion.

Point 4: “The law would put providers of five or more abortions a month in the same regulatory category as outpatient surgical centers that perform a wide range of procedures, some under general anesthesia, including tonsillectomies, cardiac catheterization, hernia repair, cataract removal and colonoscopy.”

Misleading: Abortion is often done under general anesthesia, which is more serious, while the other surgeries above are often done without general anesthesia. There is no reason why abortionists should get by with facilities less adequate than what is required for the less serious tonsillectomies or colonoscopies.

References:

1. Stephanie Simon, “Facilities that regularly provide first-trimester terminations including the pill version may be regulated as outpatient surgical centers. Two of the state’s three clinics would have to close,” Los Angeles Times (Sept. 10, 2007),

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-abortion10sep10,1,4090012.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

2. http://www.lifeissues.org/pp/index.html

3. Missouri merely extended a law that already exists for ambulatory surgical centers. Missouri’s Ambulatory Surgical Center Licensing Law (“the Act”) was amended effective August 28, 2007 (codified at section 197.200 of the Revised Missouri Statutes). Prior to the amendment the Act defined an ambulatory surgical center as any “establishment operated primarily for the purpose of performing surgical procedures or primarily for the purpose of performing childbirths and which does not provide … accommodations for patients to stay more than twenty-three hours ….” The amendment expands the definition to include any establishment that performs five or more first trimester abortions per month or any second or third trimester abortions.

4. http://www.bvwhc.org/Method Comparison Eng.doc