Neglected Side of Roe

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director of Priests for Life
July 30, 2001

You don’t hear much about it, but the fact is that Roe vs. Wade did not simply give a woman the right to an abortion. It placed on the physician the responsibility to insure the safety of the woman who gets an abortion.

And that's where the supporters of Roe vs. Wade fail to implement Roe vs. Wade.

Abortion remains the most unregulated surgical industry in the nation. Some 90% of abortions are not performed in hospitals, but rather in "clinics" which most states exempt from regulation. In fact, in the vast majority of states, veterinary clinics are more regulated than abortion clinics.

Just look at the laws that are or are not on the books. First of all, an abortionist does not have to have a specialty in OB-GYN. Rather, your abortionist may be a urologist, an allergist, or a plastic surgeon. What, furthermore, are the licensing requirements for the staff of abortion clinics? Usually, there are none. How about regulations regarding the presence of emergency medical equipment in the clinic, in case a complication should arise, or the laws governing how such an emergency should be handled? Let me know when you find such laws.

The question, of course, is why is abortion so unregulated? After all, if abortion is a legitimate medical procedure, should it not follow the same standards as other legitimate medical procedures?

The beginning of an answer may be found in the kinds of people who do abortions. Face it, one does not spend years of effort and tens of thousands of dollars to become a doctor in order to be known as an abortionist. Three decades of legalization have not taken the stigma out of abortion. "Fewer and fewer physicians wish to perform abortions" (Journal of Medical Ethics, Volume 22, 1996).

As a result, this area of "medical" practice remains as shady as it ever was, and attracts the losers and washouts of the medical community. I know many of those that used to perform abortions and no longer do. Some, in fact, posed as doctors without having spent a day in medical school. Others testify that they never sterilized the instruments. And stories of sexual abuse in abortion clinics abound. This, remember, is taking place in legal abortion clinics.

Another key point to keep in mind is that despite whatever statistics or reports you may see, nobody knows or has a way of knowing how many women are being injured, raped, and killed in legal abortion clinics. The abortion industry has largely been left to police itself, and the women who are mistreated have quite a burden of shame to overcome, because in seeking redress, they have to admit they had an abortion. One thing, though, is for sure: the more you look for documented instances of abortion malpractice, the more you find.

So what are we in the pro-life community asking? We are calling for a full investigation of what is going on in abortion clinics. Furthermore, we call for more states to exercise their Constitutionally protected right to regulate abortion clinics. We are also calling on the "pro-choice" groups to be honest. Being in favor of women's rights and health should include action to insure that clinics protect women against the malpractice of unscrupulous abortionists. After all, if you care about the exploitation of women, you care about it no matter who is doing the exploiting.


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