I remember the first time I drove past an abortion clinic. Brown, dirt-covered walls, cracks in the pavement, weeds growing up the side of the building — it was not a pretty sight. I could not help but wonder what the inside looked liked, and I questioned how anyone would trust the occupants of such an unkempt building to perform a surgical procedure on them. Staff and patients alike exited from their cars—heads down—rushing to the door. This particular clinic had its door locked at all times, so all who entered had to push a poorly located buzzer (that many of them could not find) and stand and wait until a staff member unlocked the door for them.
What is the experience like once you’re inside an abortion clinic? A cashier and consent forms greet you as you enter. Without payment, your appointment will be cancelled. If you come back for an abortion, the clinic makes another $200-$1,000. If you do not come back, they lose money. Despite anti-coercion laws in many states, anyone in sales can tell you how that will end. (Can someone looking to make money really give you an unbiased opinion?)
Right in line with their unhygienic outward appearances, the insides of many clinics are often even worse. In 2013, multiple abortion clinics in my home state of Ohio were closed for unsanitary conditions. The Columbus Dispatch reports “health inspectors turned up several… violations, including failure to combat possible infections and to keep operating-room equipment—some of which had rust and mold—clean and safe, blank prescription forms already signed by a doctor, IV bags full of expired medicine” at a clinic in Toledo, Ohio. Then near Akron they found “the facility’s state license to dispense drugs had expired the year before and its federal license a year before that. The date on its bottle of disinfectant was more than a year old, some patients’ vital signs were not checked before a procedure, informed consent was not obtained from some of the patients, drugs were improperly stored and administered…” Rust and mold in the operating room? Expired medication? Blank prescription forms so that anyone could steal them and write their own prescription or any clinic employee could prescribe medication? I am glad both these clinics were forced to close.
Also in 2013 Philadelphia abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of twenty-one counts of abortion at gestational ages past the legal limit outside of a hospital. Under-qualified staff members, “including a teenage high school student… made diagnoses, performed procedures and administered drugs.” I wonder how much profit he was able to make hiring staff without medical training?
Those stories touch on just three abortion clinics. All three of those clinics are within a day’s drive of my home in Ohio. Can we really expect that every other abortion clinic in America is playing by all the rules? Not to mention the series of Planned Parenthood videos that portray employees casually sipping wine and talking about the pieces of babies they killed that they can make money off of. Despite satirical videos trying to point to the good done at Planned Parenthood, are these the people you want operating on you?
I always imagine my little sister, Allyson, when I think about women in abortion clinics. My sister is a newlywed who has never experienced a pregnancy, but the big sister in me always imagines her in these scenarios. What if she was the one facing an unplanned pregnancy and desperately searching out her options? What if YOUR little sister was in this situation? Would you send her to an unhygienic clinic working for profit? Could I ever look Allyson in the eyes again if I had sent her to these wolves?
Instead of an abortion clinic, I know without a doubt I would send her to a crisis pregnancy center (CPC). My favorite thing about a CPC is that they are not-for-profit. They have no dog in the fight. Most CPCs staff their centers with volunteers, so many of the peer counselors you will meet actually get zero dollars, no matter what decision you make. When you take the money out of the equation, the pressure goes away. No longer is a person trying to sell you their product (abortion) to make more money. Instead, you have an individual who cared enough to give up her free time to come talk with you. In addition to the removal of the profit motive, most CPCs have rigorous training requirements. Instead of a high school student, like at Dr. Gosnell’s office, you have a well-trained peer counselor who is there to help. “You guys are so much nicer than the people at the abortion clinic” was a frequent comment I heard from clients at the CPC where I worked for four years.
CPCs seek to educate women on the four potential outcomes of all pregnancies (rather than push just one option). In every pregnancy there is a risk of miscarriage. The March of Dimes reports that “as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage—most often before a woman… even knows she is pregnant.” Other studies show that “10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, but the number is probably much higher.” That means that up to 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage and there is nothing that can be done to cause or prevent one. The three options women have control over include abortion, adoption, and parenting. Women need factually accurate information on all of their options before they can make the decision that is best for them. Many CPCs provide free ultrasounds to help confirm the viability of a pregnancy, rather than profiting $200 or more for, what in many states, is a mandatory ultrasound to confirm pregnancy and gestational age.
During my years on staff at a CPC we ROUTINELY saw women who had been lied to at the abortion clinic in our city. We saw women who had been to the abortion clinic that very day for an ultrasound and told to come back once their mandatory 24 hour wait period was up so they could fork out another $200+ to have the surgery done. Only problem? Their babies did not have heartbeats — they had already miscarried. In many cases surgery is needed after a miscarriage–one that is a medical necessity and is covered by insurance–but it should be done in a hospital setting (one that does not have moldy instruments and under-qualified staff performing the operation). This scenario happened on more than one occasion.
We also saw many women who had been treated without an ounce of compassion at abortion clinics. One client told us that when she awoke from surgery she immediately realized what she had done and started screaming “No, no, oh God, what have I done?” Instead of being met with compassion from the same people who (two hours prior) had told her this was the best decision of her life, she was quickly ushered out of the clinic and told to be quiet.
Women do have choices when facing an unplanned pregnancy. Once the news of pregnancy is processed, women have the option of calling a crisis pregnancy center or an abortion clinic. One call will lead to an organization seeking their next paycheck–an industry with failed health inspections, under-qualified employees, and women dying. The other will lead to a not-for-profit organization, one established to help women look at all of their options with no financial gain or risk. Where would you send your little sister? I know where I would send mine.
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