Law and the Created Order
9/12/12 at 01:34 PM 0 Comments

Why is Making Abortion Safer so Controversial?

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The front gate of the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the only abortion clinic in the State of Mississippi.

On July 1, a new law went into effect in Mississippi that presents the possibility that there will not be a single abortion clinic in the entire state of Mississippi. The new law requires that abortionists in the state to have hospital privileges and there are several Mississippi politicians who are on the record confirming that at least in part, the motivation for passing this law is the hope that it will force the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion clinic, to close. Mississippi is not alone in using regulation as an indirect tactic to limit the practice of abortion. Mississippi is also not alone in making itself a target of pro-abortion groups and the law in question has already been challenged in the United State District Court and the battle over whether the law will stand is not yet over. Currently, the clinic is still open while the enforcement of the law has been temporarily delayed by a judge to give the clinic time to comply.

This particular regulation, I think, is unique among similar regulations. While I don’t think that anyone would deny that the law is designed to limit the number of abortions in the state, the law on its face makes sense. Some similar regulations in other states don’t appear to have any connection to making abortions safer and the argument can be made that those regulations are unconstitutional as the term is currently defined. This law, no matter why it was enacted, appears to have the result of safer circumstances for women through continuity of care and predictability in the event that she must be admitted to a hospital. Currently, thirty-nine states have laws that only allow licensed physicians to perform abortions, but abortion advocacy groups lobby for even these common-sense regulations to be relaxed in favor of allowing nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and physician assistants to perform abortions, as well. I’m not a health care professional, so I can’t speak to the relative competencies of these types of professionals, but each of these are required to practice under some type of physician supervision. Doesn't it make sense for abortions, like any surgical procedure, to be performed by the most qualified practitioners available?

One of the arguments in favor of legalized abortion is that back alley illegal abortions were (and are) unsafe. When the medical community was barred from performing abortions, only unlicensed physicians under less than ideal circumstances would consider performing abortions. This is one of the arguments that is central to the pro-abortion movement that seeks to keep abortions, in the words of President Obama “safe, legal, and rare.” If that, however, is the central focus of these groups, then why not support the efforts of states like Mississippi to take steps to make abortions safer? Why not support the laws that only allow the most qualified practitioners to be abortionists? In some states, tattoo parlors and barber shops are more strictly regulated than abortion clinics. How do such relaxed laws promote women’s health? Wouldn’t it be better to have no abortion clinics in Mississippi than to have even one unsafe abortion clinic if the health and safety of women were first in the minds of abortion advocates?

While I am staunchly pro-life and absolutist in my opposition to abortion, I am reasonable enough to recognize that there are those who honestly and in good faith disagree with me and I can follow the internal consistency of their position when they argue the legal invalidity of regulations without a primary prima facie purpose of protecting maternal health. When a regulation comes along, however, that appears to actually further the stated agenda of the abortion movement, then why not support it even if the net result is more limited access to abortion clinics? Not every hospital in the United States is allowed to do heart transplants, but we don’t relax the standards so that those in need of heart transplant aren’t required to travel. We don’t relax those standards because no heart transplants is better than suicide by heart transplant which would be the result of such attempts in hospitals without the personnel, equipment, and expertise to do the job properly.

The only alternative explanation is that opposition to these types of regulations actually reveals the underlying agenda of these organizations. They are interested in a whole list of things other than patient health. Some are interested in money, some are interested in population control, some have racist eugenic motivations, but all act under the guise of being champions of our Constitution and the rights that every American is afforded under it. Frankly, if that was their primary interest, they would not find the Second Amendment so troubling to interpret while clearly seeing in the “penumbras and emanations” of the Bill of Rights a right to privacy that begets a right to take the life of the unborn.

The fight to protect the unborn will not be over anytime soon and I, for one, am more than happy to be on the record as being supportive of limiting or eliminating abortions by any non-violent means at our disposal. I think most pro-life advocates would agree. We cannot, however, have a civil and honest discussion on the issue until all sides come clean about their goals.

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