In the first major abortion case in almost 10 years, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for the Texas abortion case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a challenge to new Texas regulations requiring hospital admitting privileges and Ambulatory Surgical Center health and safety standards that abortion clinics must now meet.
The case has reignited debates across the land.
In the heat of it all, it feels like there is only one thing that pro-lifers and pro-abortion advocates can agree on: women matter. Their freedom matters; their bodies matter; their lives matter. They deserve what Planned Parenthood calls “Care: No Matter What,” a sentiment with which every pro-lifer would agree.
It is the definition of “care” that becomes so complicated.
[sharequote align="center"]We should regulate both the doctor and the clinic to ensure maximum care for women.[/sharequote]
Does “care” mean caring for a baby? Does it mean caring for women’s health? What about women’s rights? And what happens when these concerns conflict?
The pro-life side would answer “Yes, care for all of the above” – the baby and women’s health – it all goes together. And women don’t need to kill their children to have rights.
But, by contrast, the pro-choice side is locked in a struggle – a struggle against mom and baby. And now, in this case, a struggle between abortion “rights” and women’s health and safety – the assurance of which can only fairly be said to increase with this law.
But they brush away the tension. The extreme anti-life activists scream “Access! Access!” over and over, drowning out this very sensible law’s cry for “Access AND safety! There is no need to choose!” and the pro-life cry to “Protect them both!”
In response, those against clinic regulations try to claim the safety rules are unnecessary, that abortion is already safe and doesn’t meet the procedural characteristics requiring increased safety measures.
But how can abortion – a surgery – not meet the procedural characteristics to warrant a surgical center?
As Dr. John Bruchalski, a Virginia OB/GYN, describes, “In an abortion … you use surgical instruments to be placed deeply inside a woman’s body, where significant side effects can happen.”
Theresa Maska holds a sign supporting anti-abortion legislation outside the Texas Senate as they prepare to debate an abortion bill, Friday, July 12, 2013, in Austin, Texas. The bill would require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, only allow abortions in surgical centers, dictate when abortion pills are taken and ban abortions after 20 weeks.
If in fact it wasn’t a surgery – he goes on to explain – then why do you even need a surgeon? Why do women want a doctor? Why not just go to a cosmetologist? We should regulate both the doctor and the clinic to ensure maximum care for women.
The assertion that abortion is safe without regulation ignores the countless stories about women killed by abortion. There are so many numbers: eight killed in 2009; at least 421 women killed since abortion became legal; an estimated 1,000 Texas women needing hospitalizations annually as a result of abortion; clinic conditions full of urine and feces and blood and vomit. And behind those facts are stories and faces, desperate women neglected by people they thought would protect them.
We all agree to the necessity of government safety regulations in many other areas of a woman’s life. There are seatbelt laws, required nutrition labels, fire codes; goodness, there are even warning labels on hair dryers and Starbucks coffee. Why is it that their reproductive lives go without such protection?
This oral surgery center in Texas brags about its ability to meet Ambulatory Surgery Center standards, using it as a marketable asset: “[the] accreditation certificate symbolizes Woodhill Surgery Center’s dedication to provide an extraordinary level of care.”
Why shouldn’t Texas abortion clinics feel obligated, even feel pleased to offer at least the same standards of care as a place where you get a tooth extracted?
As they argue that imposing safety regulations will limit women’s access to abortion, they concede that women’s access to abortion is currently unsafe.
The old line of abortion activists has been to make abortion safe, legal, and rare. It is certainly legal. But it is no longer rare, with 3,500 happening per day in the U.S., which is more than two per minute. And without these laws, it is not safe. Do the pro-abortion activists really wish to abandon two out of these three tenets? Surely they do not wish for abortion to be common, unsafe, but – at least – legal.
If you truly want women to have an easier time aborting their children (which there are many reasons to discourage, not enable!), don’t do it at the expense of a woman’s physical health. You could, under this law, in this country, where abortion is legal, simply build better, bigger, safer clinics. You could recognize that abortion is surgery, and that surgery in a civilized country is regulated. You could advocate for abortion and women’s health and safety at the same time.
We all want to care for women. So we all should – pro-life, pro-abortion, or somewhere in the middle – care about preserving these laws. Because it is not caring enough to provide abortion if abortion is unsafe. It is not protecting reproductive rights if a woman’s health is on the line. Sadly, the pro-choice side has exalted abortion as a good even over and above concerns for women’s health. Women’s health and women’s rights should never been seen as oppositional goals! Women deserve better.
TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.