Doesn’t Opposing Abortion Regulation Violate the Meaning of “Safe, Legal, and Rare”?

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How many times have you heard someone who supports abortion state that they want abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare”? It is an ironic position to take, considering at least one human being dies in every abortion, which is most definitely not the meaning of “safe.”

While it is true abortion is legal, rare it is not. According to a National Right to Life Committee estimate based on data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, since the fateful Roe v. Wade decision became the law of the land in 1973, 54,500,000 babies have been aborted. To emphasize the enormity of that number, Dave Andrusko, editor of National Right to Life News, broke it down further, “But what it means is that there are over 3,300 abortions every day — 137 per hour — or about one dead baby every thirty seconds.”

When abortion proponents talk about making abortion “safe,” it is obviously only in regards to the mother. So that must mean that “pro-choice” supporters would want abortion clinics to be clean, adhere to medical standards, and have regular inspections, right?

In March 2011, Governor McDonnell signed SB 924 into law; it added abortion clinics that perform more than five first-trimester abortions per month to the list of facilities the Board of Health regulates. summed up what happened next, “Although the state of Virginia passed a law regulating the state’s abortion facilities in the same manner as hospitals, on June 15 [2012] the state Board of Health voted to waive one architectural regulation by a vote of 7-4. Reportedly, 17 of the state’s 21 abortion clinics could not afford the overhaul and would have to close.” Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli did not certify the Board’s decision, as he said they did not have the authority under the law’s wording to exempt the facilities. On September 14, 2012, the Board voted 13-2 to reverse its decision, which was met with criticism from abortion supporters.

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said, “This board decision is an underhanded method to make abortion inaccessible and outrageously expensive. Without clinics there is no choice for women. It threatens women’s health and lives because many women’s health clinics in Virginia may be forced out of business. These unnecessary and arbitrary rules will result in Virginia women having restricted access to not only abortion services but also to low-cost birth control services, cancer screenings, and sexually transmitted disease testing, as well as other women’s health services.”

Notice the focus on the access to abortion, not the safety of the women undergoing them.

On September 12, 2012, the Family Foundation of Virginia released the findings of the Virginia Department of Health inspections (obtained through a Freedom of Information Act inquiry) of nine of the twenty abortion clinics in Virginia. The findings were presented to the Board of Health at their June 2012 meeting. Here is a partial list of findings:

The nine centers inspected received a total of 80 citations. Eighteen citations were issued for personnel issues, including no background checks, no ongoing plans for staff training, no maintenance of personnel files, no policy requiring staff to be CPR trained, no policies setting experience and training required to practice Thirteen citations were issued for infection prevention issues — including seven clinics with no clear division between clean and dirty utility areas — four centers where personnel weren’t using personal protective equipment, and a host of record keeping issues. Ten citations were issued regarding the administration, storage, and dispensing of drugs, including four with expired drugs in stock and others with improper labeling of drugs or no medication dispensing policy. Ten “maintenance of equipment” citations were issued, including “equipment not in good repair” and “no preventative maintenance plan.” Six citations were issued for local and state building code violations.

To read about fetal remains and blood (known euphemistically as “conception material”) found on the freezer floor during an announced inspection of one Virginia abortion clinic or how another clinic employee could not tell which containers contained the dirty medical instruments as opposed to the clean ones, click here. If you would like more details on the dried blood found on the procedure table in another clinic or the story of how an employee — unsupervised and unchecked — mixes the drugs administered to women undergoing abortions, click here.

Safe, legal, and rare is a nice, benign-sounding slogan, but it is far from reality.

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