Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Answering criticisms of the MCCL-backed bills

Two MCCL-backed bills were discussed and approved yesterday in the Minnesota Senate Health and Human Services Committee. One (S.F. 1921) would require that abortion clinics be licensed and allow for inspections by the Department of Health. The other (S.F. 1912) would require a physician to be present during an RU486 chemical abortion, thereby prohibiting webcam (telemedicine) abortions.

Critics of the first bill suggested that it is a "solution in search of a problem." But the licensing requirement is so basic, so commonsensical, that we cannot even know if there are any health problems in abortion clinics unless this bill is enacted into law. Kermit Gosnell's now-infamous Philadelphia abortion clinic, for example, committed its atrocities over many years, and no one knew about them because there were no inspections.

MCCL's Andrea Rau testifies
at the Feb. 27 hearing
One senator thought that the bill is an attempt to single out abortion providers. On the contrary: Why are abortion providers currently singled out from the kind of basic licensing that is required of a wide variety of other facilities, including ones engaged in much less serious and health-related practices? No one seems to question such licensing; those who accept it should for the same reasons (to ensure public safety) accept the licensing of abortion clinics, which perform one of the most common surgical procedures in the state. To have one without the other does not seem to be a rationally defensible position.

Critics of the second bill touted the benefits of telemedicine. But the bill's advocates have not criticized telemedicine itself or in general -- it can be and is used to extend legitimate health care to many people who need it. Administering RU486 via telemedicine is simply a misuse of this technology. RU486 is an elective abortion method, not health care; it does not treat any medical condition. And it carries serious risks to the health of women that are exacerbated when a doctor is not present.