The Supreme Court will soon decide whether it’s constitutional to regulate abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). In what some are calling the most important abortion case in almost a quarter century, Texas abortionists are suing to prevent such oversight. They complain that the state’s health and safety rules are expensive and unnecessary.
Lakisha Wilson, were she alive today, might have a different opinion.
Two years ago, Ms Wilson was 22. She died following an abortion at a third-floor clinic in Cleveland that was accessible by an elevator too small to accommodate a fully reclined gurney. Due to this structural limitation, she had to be moved from the building in an upright position, unable to receive immediate treatment, such as intubation that might have helped her.
Even before emergency personnel arrived, though, evidence suggests that the abortion clinic treating Ms. Wilson was insufficiently staffed to properly monitor her. At the least, apparently no one noticed in time that she was in shock from internal bleeding. When the 911 call was placed, Ms. Wilson was no longer breathing. After being resuscitated by paramedics and finally transported to a hospital, she was placed on life support, but later pronounced dead.
Abortionists don’t think that they need to be prepared for emergencies like Ms. Wilson’s. They argue in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the challenge to Texas’s laws regulating abortionists and abortion clinics, that the standards the state applies to surgical centers that heal are “burdensome” to those that kill.
So, what are these “burdensome” rules?
For starters, Texas wants to make sure that emergency medical technicians can quickly access abortion patients and transport them to hospitals. That means abortion clinics should have hallways and doorways wide enough to fit a gurney with a woman on it who’s hemorrhaging from a botched abortion.
Karnamaya Mongar’s death was undoubtedly instructive to Texas legislators in this regard. Ms. Mongar, an immigrant from Bhutan, was one of the victims of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist whose “house of horrors” clinic motivated lawmakers in multiple states to enact more protection for women seeking abortion. His case is explicitly referenced in the briefs for the Whole Woman’s case.
Paramedics needed 20 minutes just to maneuver through narrow, cluttered hallways and a padlocked emergency door to get Ms. Mongar to an ambulance.
But aren’t injuries from abortion rare? Aren’t abortions supposed to be incredibly safe – for the mother, at least?
We would know if abortion complications were accurately reported, but they’re not. The ones that happen, though, are certainly serious.
The Pandora’s Box of abortion includes hemorrhage, infection, uterine perforation, anesthesia complications, incomplete abortion, and embolism, some of which can lead to hysterectomy or death. And these complications are not as rare as abortion businesses would like us to believe.
Planned Parenthood, which is not a party to the Whole Woman’s Health lawsuit, concedes that at least 210 Texas women a year must be hospitalized following an abortion. Based on statistics provided by pro-abortion expert witnesses, Operation Rescue estimates that there are 1,000 women a year in the Lone Star State who need post-abortion hospital care.
If you’re one of those 200-to-1,000 women, it’s of little solace that your injuries are pronounced “rare” by the abortion industry. Never mind that minimum safety conditions might have prevented your trauma, your condition is dismissed and the reality of your pain is to be ignored.
The “burdens” abortionists recognize are their own, not women’s.
How is it a burden to women for them to have more nurses at clinics to assist and monitor them?
How is it harmful to women for there to be an emergency generator in case the clinic’s power goes out while they’re on the operating table?
Larger operating rooms? Better fire safety requirements? Higher anesthesia standards? These may burden clinic owners and their checkbooks, but not women.
Yet, as oppressive as it may seem to some abortionists to have to protect their patients from harm, there are numerous clinics that are already doing it.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of the abortion industry, over 20 states require abortion facilities to meet structural standards that are comparable to those of ambulatory surgical centers.
For instance, Pennsylvania, following the recommendation of the Gosnell grand jury, mandated that abortion clinics meet ASC requirements in 2012. Planned Parenthood decried the effort to protect women, claiming that the law would “ultimately put a majority of abortion care facilities out of business in Pennsylvania.” But before the law went into effect there were 22 non-hospital facilities performing abortions in Pennsylvania – two years after the law was enacted, there were 19.
Today in Texas, abortionists are also shouting that their sky will fall if they are forced to protect women’s health by complying with surgical center safety rules. Yet, since 2003, Texas facilities that perform abortions after 15 weeks have had to operate under the very same requirements. As such, nine existing clinics, including the newest ones, already meet ASC standards.
In the Supreme Court’s last “landmark” abortion decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter wrote that “the State has legitimate interests from the outset of the pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman.” As far back as 1983, Justice O’Connor stated in Simopoulos v. Virginia that she would have applied her “undue burden” test to uphold ambulatory surgical center rules for clinics that perform abortions at any stage of pregnancy.
The Supreme Court does not have to overturn any prior decisions to uphold Texas’s common sense rules for abortion patient safety. It simply has to follow its precedents and remember Lakisha Wilson, Karnamaya Mongar, and the countless others who have paid with their health and lives because the profits of abortionists have been elevated over the safety of women.