The Right Uses the State to Harass Abortion Providers

28 Jun

A guest post by Peg Johnston, an independent abortion provider in New York State and member of the Abortion Care Network.

It’s official, the antis have found a way to use public funds to wage their campaign against abortion providers. (Or ANOTHER way, I should say, since funding for their propaganda centers and abstinence education is sizeable, but this is more direct.) Their first target, ironically, is Whole Woman’s Health, arguably one of the best clinics in the U.S. Not surprisingly, the state they have manipulated is Texas, one of the worst states in which to offer women abortion services. Says Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, “I feel like I live in another country where abortion is illegal.”

Here’s how it works: the anti-abortion folks make complaints to various state agencies, anonymously of course, triggering an inspection –many inspections. If you work in a hospital or nursing home or any medical setting you know that a 100% perfect inspection is a rarity. There are always little nitpicky things that you could get caught on, none of which have anything to do with quality patient care. But a spontaneous inspection is its own form of harassment. And in these times more importantly, the state of Texas is nearly bankrupt; the taxpayers should be fighting mad about state agencies wasting time and money on an anti-abortion fool’s errand. But of course, this is Texas we’re talking about.

So, when this story comes to your attention, don’t for a minute think that the abortion clinic is doing something shady. They are not. In the light of the hideous conditions revealed by the investigation of Philadelphia based Dr. Kermit Gosnell, you might understandably be suspicious. The difference there is that the state of Pennsylvania failed to inspect. Had they kept up with regular scheduled inspections women might have been protected from Gosnell’s illegal and substandard practices.

The weight of state scrutiny is considerable but in places like Texas it can also be capricious. Not only is it burdensome, but when the state suddenly shows up it can make you feel like you’re doing something wrong—particularly when anti abortion websites try to make something over a labeling error or other non-patient care issue.

Always remember that the anti-abortion extremists are trying to stigmatize abortion providers. Don’t assume abortion providers are doing bad things. And if this state sponsored harassment of abortion providers comes to your state, call your representative to protest the waste of state funds. Abortion providers are all for inspections—exactly what any medical facility can expect, and not more. But the taxpayers should not be paying for the state to do the bidding of the anti-abortion movement.

3 Responses to “The Right Uses the State to Harass Abortion Providers”

  1. Corey June 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    Could you clarify for me: You refer to “regular scheduled inspections” saying the would prevent another Gosnell-mess and seem to be OK with those. Is it just the “spontaneous inspection” that is “harassment” and that you are against?
    Thanks Peg!

  2. Peg Johnston June 28, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    I think most clinics expect regular inspections and even welcome them to be sure there is a level playing field with all providers and ensure a level of quality for patients. But 7 surprise inspections in a 3 month’s time frame, all in response to “anonymous” complaints which is what happened in Texas is disruptive, demoralizing, and takes away from good quality care. (Operation Rescue had acknowledged that they made the complaints.)

    In Pennsylvania, the Dept of Health decided to not do inspections as some kind of misguided pro choice thing, coming from the government not the providers or activists to my knowledge. Had they done inspections– or acted on the ones that they did– Dr. Gosnell would have been shut down or fined or something!!

    Bottom line, abortion clinics should be held to the same standard as other similar medical facilities– not more, not less. And remember, abortion is the safest medical procedure in the US!! Thanks for asking.

  3. Terry June 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    It’s not about “spontaneous inspections”, Corey.

    It’s about the suspicious group filing, re-filing and re-filing the allegations. A group whose stated mission is to close abortion clinics. A group who’s policy director was jailed for an attempt to bomb an abortion clinic. Suspicious? Isn’t it obvious?

    And, it’s about the knee-jerk response each agency makes to these allegations.

    It’s about the same so-called evidence being submitted multiple times to multiple agencies and the agencies continuing to respond each and every time as if it were all new. Really?

    It’s about all these allegations being found to be baseless, ‘evidence’ not reliable nor related to the quality patient care offered and affirmed year after year.

    It’s about being assumed guilty until proven innocent even when the ‘evidence’ is questionable.

    And, really, it’s about this big waste of important government agencies that could be caring for and protecting citizens.

    It’s about the waste of government resources when we need roads, schools, clean water, shelters, healthcare – you know, the real needs of people in their real lives.

    It’s about distraction, about harrassment, about misuse of valuable resources, about political agendas.

    It’s about closing clinic doors, one door at a time. Really.

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