Crummy Medicine

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director of Priests for Life
May 10, 1999

The practice of abortion today is a far cry from what Roe vs. Wade had in mind, and abortionists know it.

Dr. Warren Hern, who wrote a medical textbook on how to do abortions, said the following at the 18th Annual meeting of the National Abortion Federation:

"I have to say this: There’s a lot of crummy medicine being practiced out there in providing abortion services, and I think that some of the stuff I see coming across my desk is very upsetting … We have to do this right or we shouldn’t do it."

That’s almost as reassuring as the words of Dr. Edward Allred, owner of a chain of abortion facilities performing some 60,000 abortions per year:

"Very commonly we hear patients say they feel like they’re on an assembly line. We tell them they’re right. It is an assembly line…We’re trying to be as cost-effective as possible, and speed is important…We try to use the physician for his technical skills and reduce the one-on-one relationship with the patient. We usually see the patient for the first time on the operating table and then not again…""Doctor’s Abortion Business is Lucrative," San Diego Union, Oct. 12, 1980:B1

What many don’t realize is that Roe vs. Wade didn’t mean to leave the abortion decision only up to the woman. It decided, rather, that the "right to privacy" was broad enough to encompass abortion, which was to be practiced only after appropriate and sufficient consultation with a responsible physician. The Court said,

"…Appellants…argue that the woman’s right is absolute and that she is entitled to terminate her pregnancy at whatever time, in whatever way, and for whatever reason she alone chooses. With this we do not agree…The Court’s decisions recognizing a right of privacy also acknowledge that some state regulation in areas protected by that right is appropriate. As noted above, a state may properly assert important interests in safeguarding health, in maintaining medical standards, and in protecting potential life… The privacy right involved, therefore, cannot be said to be absolute."

In reference to malpractice, Roe also said, "If an individual practitioner abuses the privilege of exercising proper medical judgment, the usual remedies, judicial and intra-professional, are available" (Roe at 166).

Medical professionals have also acknowledged these issues:

"It is recognized that although an abortion may be requested by a patient or recommended by a physician, the final decision as to performing the abortion must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s attending physician, in consultation with the patient" (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Committee on Professional Standards, Standard for Obstetric-Gynecological Services, 1981).

Abortion is legal, but malpractice is not. My hunch is that if we crack down on the malpractice, abortion itself will decline. After all, you can’t practice vice virtuously. When we speak of these things, the abortion industry accuses us of "harassment." That’s a strange way to label efforts to protect women. Maybe it’s time for supporters of Roe vs. Wade to reread it.

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