I recently read that California Governor Jerry Brown (yes, he’s still alive and kicking) signed a bill into law that would allow certain non-physicians to perform abortions. Predictably, the pro-choice groups hailed the measure as an important step towards making abortions more accessible to women. The pro-life groups basically said Brown is pond scum and that he would spend all of eternity in Hell.
The pro-choice groups are excited because in many parts of the country there is a serious lack of abortion providers. A lot of the ones that entered the field years right after Roe was decided are now rather old and are close to retirement (or death). In many cases, when a doctor retires or dies it means the clinic closes because there are no replacement physicians. So, you’d think that everyone in the pro-choice movement would rally around a new law like this one.
Not so fast.
Think about this for a second. Say you run a hot dog stand on the corner of 51st Street and Lexington Avenue in midtown Manhattan. You’ve been working the same spot for 21 years. You’ve gotten to know your patrons personally and you know their order before they can spit it out. You also get used to making a certain amount of money every week and your income determines your lifestyle.
Then, one day a young whipper-snapper opens up another hot dog stand right across the street. I mean, he is right there in your field of vision and you can’t ignore how many people are now patronizing his business. You can practically count how many customers you’re losing to the competition and pretty soon your income decreases and your way of life is affected.
So, although the pro-choice groups are applauding the action of Governor Brown, some of the doctors and owners of abortion clinics in California are undoubtedly watching things with a wary eye. Now, a clinic that only has one doctor who is ninety nine years old will no doubt welcome the new blood and they’ll be out there recruiting them to work at their clinic. But then there are the other clinics that actually have several young doctors who will not necessarily need replacing for a good 20-30 years. These clinics, like others, have been watching the number of abortion patients declining to begin with and all of a sudden they now have to think about the prospect of a young nurse putting together some capital to open up her own office in the same town. It might take a little while but ultimately that nurse and her clinic will start siphoning off patients from the established clinic and, like the hot dog guy, their income and life style could be affected.
Now, the pro-lifers will scream that I’ve just admitted that the doctors are “in it for the money.” Well, to some extent that is true. Like any other doctor or businessperson, when you enter a field and open up shop your goal is to make enough money to pay the expenses, the staff salaries and – dare I say it – a profit for the person who invested the money in the first place.
So, while the bigger picture says to thank Jerry Brown for this new law, I’ll bet you anything that some current doctors and owners of abortion clinics are just a tad bit nervous.
- Legal obstacles remain before abortion clinic could open in Wichita (kansas.com)
- Laws Revive ‘World Before Roe’ as Abortions Require Arduous Trek (bloomberg.com)
- California Passes Law Allowing Non-Doctors To Perform Abortions (constitutionclub.org)
- California Passes Law Allowing Non-Doctors To Perform Abortions (mikesright.wordpress.com)
- 40 Days of Hate and Hypocrisy (feministactivism.com)
- Pro-choice activists target Jeremy Hunt over voting record on abortion rights (guardian.co.uk)