The Internet is an amazing tool. We all owe Al Gore a debt of gratitude.
Remember years ago when a woman seeking information on abortion services had to pick up her local Yellow Pages and sort through all of the listings under “Abortion?” Not much information except for the simple listings with the clinic phone number. Today, as we all know, the Yellow Pages are a dinosaur. Now, a person looking for abortion services will do a Google search or go to websites like www.abortion.com, a comprehensive listing of abortion clinics throughout the country. So, to get up to speed, I recently did a Google search and, while there was a lot of information, some of the results were a little disturbing.
I typed in the phrase “abortion clinics.” I was immediately greeted with a number of references to clinics here in Northern Virginia. High in the listings was also a link to www.abortion.com. But then I noticed some other listings prominently displayed that were of concern to me.
Indeed, the first listing up top, in the “sponsored links” section, was a listing for American Women’s Medical Services. To get a listing under “sponsored links,” you basically pay Google. Every time someone clicks onto your ad, you “pay per click.” The fee per click for a phrase like “abortion clinics” can be very, very expensive. Putting that aside, AWMS is a chain of clinic that are owned and operated by the notorious Doctor Stephen Brigham. Brigham lost his New Jersey medical license in 2010 after regulators discovered an arrangement under which he would begin second- and third-trimester abortions in New Jersey and then have the patients drive themselves to Maryland the next day to complete the procedures. Before that, his license was revoked in New York in 1994 after a board found him guilty of gross negligence. The authorities have been after him for years.
Then, in the non-paying section of Google I saw a listing for the Orlando Women’s Center, a small chain of clinics run by Doctor James Pendergraft. A short while ago, a jury awarded $36.7 million to a woman who brought a lawsuit against him for malpractice. It seems that the woman went to his clinic for an abortion in November 2001, was given drugs to induce labor, but was never seen by a doctor. When she began inquiring about the doctor, she was told to “change her attitude or get the hell out of the clinic.” The woman left while in active labor and later gave birth to a disabled girl, now 10, who suffers “severe cerebral palsy” and never will walk, speak or be able to care for herself.
Meanwhile, in the same Google search, I noticed several more sponsored links for “clinics” that, after a little research, I determined were actually anti-abortion facilities otherwise known as “crisis pregnancy centers.” While some of these facilities are up front about what they do, many of them are known to pretend to be an abortion facility, the idea being that if they can get a woman who is considering abortion into their facility, they will hopefully talk her out of it and “save a baby.” Interestingly, these listings were paid for, meaning that these facilities are willing to spend very big bucks (like Brigham) to get unsuspecting women into their office.
Years ago, the same anti-abortion centers listed under “Abortion Services” in the Yellow Pages, until the Yellow Page Publishers Association got wise to the deceptive practices and prohibited them from advertising under that category. It’s too bad that the Internet has not caught up with this deception. And it’s too bad that there are doctors like Brigham and Pendergraft can advertise as well.
- Mississippi’s Lone Abortion Clinic May Have To Close On July 1 (thinkprogress.org)
- In Unexpected Move, Virginia Medical Board Shoots Down Unnecessary Abortion Clinic Provisions (thinkprogress.org)
- Michigan House Passes Sweeping Abortion Bill (huffingtonpost.com)
- Five Reasons Why Michigan’s Anti-Abortion Bill Is The Nation’s Worst (thinkprogress.org)