A woman is having an abortion – and something goes wrong. Let’s say she goes into cardiac arrest. The bells start ringing and at some point the administrator or anyone for that matter calls 911. Shortly, an ambulance arrives. The doctor and maybe some staff follows the ambulance to the hospital. The hospital technicians take over and hopefully the woman’s life is saved.
Meanwhile, the abortion doctor did not have admitting privileges to that hospital. The woman is revived and leaves the hospital days later.
This is the way things usually happen when there is an emergency at an abortion clinic (or, for that matter, any other medical facility). Hospital emergency rooms are there to treat the emergency. They don’t care who the patient is, what country they come from, whether or not they have money. Their task is to treat the patient and ask questions later.
So, you gotta wonder why the anti-abortion movement has spent so much time advocating for the passage of state legislation that would require an abortion doctor to have admitting privileges at a local hospital? Actually, that’s a stupid question. Those of us who have spent time in the world of abortion – including the antis – know that such legislation is just another way to possibly close an abortion clinic.
This issue, in fact, is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. A few weeks ago, oral arguments were heard in the Whole Women’s Health case and a decision is expected in a few months on this (and other) question.
On its face, requiring admitting privileges to a hospital doesn’t sound so bad, does it? But dig a little deeper and you get a great sense of the brilliant minds in the anti-abortion movement that are crafting this kind of legislation. For they know that when you are an abortion doctor it can be difficult, if not impossible, to get admitting privileges. And the reasons have nothing to do with their skills as a doctor.
First of all, in many parts of the country the abortion doctor is a pariah in their community and the politics of the local hospital might be such that they just do not want to give the doctor admitting privileges. That’s especially true of religious affiliated hospitals and in the more backward and parochial rural areas of the country. The hospital board may be anti-abortion or they may just be concerned about local protestors showing up should they find out the abortion doctor can admit patients.
Second – and most ironic – is the fact that to get admitting privileges in most hospitals you have to commit a certain number of patients to that hospital to remain in “good standing.” But abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures performed in this country and the number of cases where a woman needs to be admitted is incredibly low. The doctors are being “punished” because they are being good doctors.
But the antis don’t care about these arguments. It’s like the proposals that require clinic hallways to be a certain width. The antis don’t give a crap about the woman’s health, although that is their argument. They are just looking (and discovering) ways to burden the clinic to the point where they simply cannot afford to stay open.
I have got to give credit where credit is due – the strategy is brilliant and were it not for some brave courts, many clinics in this country would have shut their doors by now because of these laws. Let’s just hope this current Supreme Court can see through this trickery and strike down these totally unnecessary laws.