Cynically trying to manufacture another “war on women” in an election year, pro-abortion opportunists are championing the deceptively named “Women’s Health Protection Act” that will do nothing to safeguard women’s health, but will instead sweep aside hundreds of protective state laws. In doing so, they are trying to co-opt and distort the pro-life movement’s resoundingly successful “mother-child strategy” that supported the enactment of more than 40 abortion-related measures in 2014. The abortion lobby’s efforts are doomed to failure.
The pro-life effort focuses on protecting women and unborn children from abortion industry abuses, while abortion advocates work to exempt abortionists from health and safety standards designed to protect the vulnerable. No matter the name of the bill, whom you were seeking to help matters.
This comprehensive and caring approach, advanced by groups such as Americans United for Life, has laid the groundwork for the enactment of more than 200 protective state laws since 2011 and has the abortion industry increasingly fighting for its very survival. It is easy to see why abortion advocates are desperate to steal a page from the successful pro-life playbook.
State legislators continue to advance measures that hold the abortion industry legally and morally accountable for complying with basic, commonsense standards for safeguarding women’s health and safety, for providing women with accurate and complete information about abortion and its life-affirming alternatives, and for cooperating with law enforcement when women and girls have been victimized and abused. To most Americans, this is the least we should expect from an industry that realizes substantial profits while hypocritically claiming to advance the interests of women.
Notably, the abortion industry has only itself to blame for the surging popularity of many of the abortion regulations enacted over the past four years.
The specter of Kermit Gosnell, the notorious Philadelphia abortionist who ran a macabre and dangerous abortion clinic and who was convicted in May 2013 of killing both born-alive infants and an abortion patient, has not dissipated from the public’s consciousness.
In direct response to Gosnell and to the dozens of other abortion providers across the country who have been investigated, cited, sued, or even criminally charged for endangering women, state legislators have debated and enacted a variety of abortion patient safety measures.
For example, in 2014, three states, Indiana, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, enacted laws requiring that an abortionist maintain admitting privileges at a hospital within a reasonable distance of the abortion clinic, increasing the number of states with such requirements to 16. Despite abortion advocates’ misleading claims to the contrary, the need for hospital admitting privileges is clear.
Relying on the abortion industry’s conservative estimates of complication rates along with the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute’s latest report on induced abortions, in 2011 alone, more than 3,000 women required hospitalization following abortions. Admitting privileges requirements ensure that these women receive appropriate post-abortive and emergency care.
One of the important lessons learned from the Gosnell case was that abortion laws must be more than words in a dusty codebook. They must be enforced.
This year, a number of states considered measures to enhance enforcement of their abortion laws. For example, Arizona enacted a measure permitting unannounced inspections of abortion facilities, circumventing any attempts by abortion providers to delay or obstruct investigations into substandard practices.
Of particular note in 2014 were measures mandating that a woman whose unborn child has received a life-limiting diagnosis be informed of supportive services, including perinatal hospice, available to her and her family if the child is carried to term. Working with AUL, Mississippi and Oklahoma adopted new perinatal hospice information requirements.
These new laws represent just a small sampling of this year’s life-affirming, pro-woman, and pro-child accomplishments. Stemming from the growing pro-life convictions of the American public, these legislative triumphs also lay the groundwork for continued success in 2015 and beyond.
While abortion advocates and their allies in Congress are fond of accusing pro-life Americans of not caring about women, their own actions belie their crass campaign slogans. No one genuinely concerned about women could honestly advocate for invalidating hundreds of state laws that empower women with information and protect them from often self-interested and substandard abortion providers. Instead, it is pro-life legislators and their constituents who are the real champions of women and their children.
Burke is vice president for Legal Affairs at Americans United for Life.