The abortion industry repeats the mantra “abortion is health care.” But when it comes to actually protecting the health and safety of women seeking abortions, it’s all about the abortion and very little to do with health care.
Take the abortion industry in Louisiana, for example.
Several abortion clinics in the state were cited for a laundry list of disturbing health code violations that were putting women at risk. Abortionists who failed to sterilize instruments between procedures. Who neglected to report statutory rapes of their clients. And who allowed women to suffer on the operating table when they needed urgent medical attention at a hospital.
So Louisiana legislators decided to do something about it. They passed the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act in June of 2014. And now, Louisiana abortion providers are challenging at the U.S. Supreme Court the very laws that were intended to protect women and their health.
Read more below.
Who: Abortion providers and the state of Louisiana
When a woman walks into an abortion facility, she is often fearful and anxious. The skills and training of the staff members around her may likely be the last things on her mind. They should be.
Several Louisiana clinics have been cited for failing to keep their facilities clean, reusing single-use equipment, and even allowing unqualified staff members to assist with abortions. Abortion providers were also not properly screening the doctors who perform abortions. In one case, an abortion facility even hired an eye doctor to perform abortions.
This has left women in dangerous and sometimes life-threatening situations.
Legislators in the state of Louisiana knew they needed to act immediately to protect women’s health and safety. That’s why they passed Act 620, the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act. This law requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
A law like this does two things:
- To obtain admitting privileges, doctors are screened by hospitals for competence and a clean track record. For doctors who perform abortions, this helps ensure that they are properly vetted and have the appropriate skills and knowledge, including a history free of substandard care.
- It helps ensure that women undergoing abortions have continuity of care. In the case of an emergency—such as a perforated uterus—a doctor can directly admit a woman undergoing an abortion to the hospital where he has admitting privileges, relay critical information, and continue treating her as appropriate.
These are not hypothetical concerns. One of the abortion doctors challenging the law testified at trial that, after he punctured a woman’s uterus during an abortion, he used his emergency admitting privileges to admit her to a hospital and give her the emergency care she needed.
Act 620 is common sense.
Admitting privileges are required of all doctors at ambulatory surgical centers under Louisiana law. And yet, the abortion providers are seeking a special exception only for abortionists.
Even worse: they’re hijacking women’s voices to do so. For years, the abortion industry has said that it has the authority to challenge abortion laws in court because they speak for “women’s rights.”
But only women can speak for women’s rights. And while abortionists say that they are speaking for women, they’re really only concerned with themselves. They have a conflict of interest. It would be like an employer with a hazardous worksite suing on behalf of employees to invalidate OSHA and other safety regulations that benefit those same employees. In non-abortion contexts, courts don’t allow this.
If these abortion facilities actually wanted to provide quality health care, they would welcome safeguards like the ones in Act 620. That’s why ADF senior counsel Kevin Theriot says, “Allowing abortionists to use women’s rights to strike down a law protecting women’s health is like allowing an auto manufacturer to invoke consumers’ rights to invalidate a law requiring safer seat belts.”
This case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only will the outcome of this case affect the health and safety of women protected by Act 620, it could affect whether the abortion industry is able to continue challenging health and safety laws it doesn’t want to comply with, and claiming to do so on behalf of the women those laws protect.
Louisiana passed Act 620 on June 12, 2014. In August 2014, several abortion facilities in the state challenged the law and filed for an injunction to prevent it from going into effect.
Louisiana battled with abortion providers, including June Medical Services, in federal district court and then at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
In January 2020, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 80 current, former, and incoming Louisiana state legislators. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on March 4, 2020.
Act 620 was passed by the Louisiana State Legislature to address the horrendous health code violations by several abortion facilities in the state.
The legislation was bi-partisan. In fact, it was introduced by State Representative Katrina Jackson, a Democrat, and signed into law by then-Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican.
Why: To protect women’s health and safety
We can’t forget the reason for Louisiana’s law: to protect women who are seeking an abortion.
As it stands now, women are at risk in many abortion facilities in Louisiana. The staff or doctors working there might not be competent or complying with existing health and safety codes. And the doctors might not have admitting privileges to get their patients to a hospital quickly if something goes wrong.
Take the story of Brenda J. Brenda began to bleed heavily when an abortion doctor perforated her uterus during an abortion. But the abortionist left her on the table for seven to eight hours as she lost more and more blood. Finally, the doctor sent Brenda to the hospital—not in an ambulance, but in a staff member’s car.
Once Brenda arrived at the emergency room, doctors couldn’t effectively diagnose her bleeding because they didn’t know about the abortion. Because of this, Brenda’s treatment was delayed. While undergoing additional surgery, doctors discovered part of the baby’s skull inside her. This tragic incident resulted in Brenda losing her uterus and the ability to ever have children.
If Act 620 had been in place, Brenda’s terrible story may have been prevented. With admitting privileges, the abortionist would have been able to admit and treat Brenda at the hospital nearby and relay the critical information about what had gone wrong during the abortion. And if the abortionist’s skill or competence were proven lacking, Act 620 would have prevented him from performing Brenda’s botched abortion in the first place.
The Bottom Line: We need to listen to women. Not abortion providers.
The abortion industry talks about how it fights for women’s health care. But this case shows the industry is only concerned with more abortions and more profits.
If abortion doctors like those in Louisiana really wanted to protect women’s health, they would welcome safeguards that protect women’s health and wellbeing. Instead, they’ve challenged those safeguards by invoking the rights of the women Act 620 protects.
The Supreme Court should put an end to this conflict of interest. And it should uphold the right of women seeking abortions to be treated with a modicum of safety.
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