I am pleased to let you know that MFI’s national ally, Citizenlink, recently filed an amicus brief in one of the most important Supreme Court cases on abortion in over two decades. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which was argued before the court on Wednesday, revolves around a Texas law that simply holds abortion facilities to the same basic care standards required for every other out-patient medical facility. The pro-abortion parties attacking this common sense law are seeking to continue giving substandard abortion facilities a pass when it comes to basic healthcare. As Citizenlink rightly points out, the refusal to allow health inspections amounts to nothing more than the state subsidization of inferior care for women.
The Texas law was passed in the wake of a grisly investigation into the Philadelphia abortion clinic run by Dr. Kermit Gosnell. His trial revealed that at least two women died at his facility and many more were harmed by unsanitary conditions. The grand jury in the Gosnell case urged lawmakers across the country to close these abortion clinic inspection loopholes to ensure that such tragic deaths of women did not occur during an abortion procedure. In response to the grand jury’s recommendation, Texas passed its law in 2013.
Before the Gosnell story broke, Massachusetts had its own deadly experience with unsafe abortion facilities. In 2007, 22-year-old Laura Hope Smith from Sandwich, MA died on the operating table at a Cape-Cod abortion facility. Investigators cited the lack of basic safety equipment, such as a defibrillator or hallways wide enough to fit a stretcher, as issues leading to her death. Because Massachusetts does not subject abortion facilities to the same licensing and inspection requirements as other medical facilities in the Commonwealth, they are at risk of repeating Laura’s tragedy.
During Wednesday’s oral argument, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito mentioned the “appalling violations” at the Whole Woman’s Health facility, including “[h]oles in the floor—where rats could come in, the lack of any equipment to adequately sterilize instruments.” Like the Gosnell clinic before it, this situation at Whole Woman’s Health in Texas is just one of many cases of malpractice discovered in abortion clinics. Planned Parenthood recognizes the risk inherent to abortions as they admit that “even though in-clinic abortion procedures are generally very safe, in extremely rare cases, serious complications may be fatal.” States therefore have a legitimate interest in clinic inspections and reasonable requirements such as abortionists having admitting privileges at a local hospital.
According to an analysis in TIME put out by Susan B. Anthony List’s president, other abortion facilities in states including Delaware, Virginia, Illinois, Ohio, Florida and Maryland have documented health and safety violations.
Here in Massachusetts, a similar bill is pending in the legislature that would address the double standard of healthcare safety when it comes to abortion. For example, tanning booths, hair salons and veterinary offices are all subject to licensure and inspection requirements. Abortion clinics are not. A Woman’s Safety Act (House Bill 2039) seeks to rectify this by holding all abortion facilities to basic health and safety standards. The NewBostonPost and, on a national level, World Net Daily both referenced MFI’s press release sent out on Wednesday which noted this current double standard on safety and health in Massachusetts. Together with our national allies at Citizenlink, Massachusetts Family Institute will continue to promote common sense legislation such as A Woman’s Safety Act and work to ensure those laws are upheld in our nation’s courts.