Professors Byron Calhoun, of West Virginia University-Charleston’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Teresa Collett, of the University of St. Thomas Law School, addressed concerns about women’s health in abortion clinics on the one-year anniversary of the Kermit Gosnell court case.
Calhoun said, “Unfortunately, the lack of oversight, regulation and accountability afforded to abortion clinics, abortion providers and the abortion industry remains an inexplicable medical anomaly.” He went on, “No other medical or service industry is allowed to act with such impunity or freedom from external peer review or administrative review.” In his state of West Virginia, there is “no oversight, no inspection by the state” of abortion clinics. Yet, “cosmetologists, tattoo parlors, vet clinics are under scrutiny” and are “regularly inspected” by the state. It is for this reason that, as Calhoun said, “Abortion industry providers love to tap the uniqueness” of their care and industry.
As a 1992 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court said, abortion is “the only care rendered which routinely ended in the death of a member of the human race.” Calhoun pointed out the inconsistencies of the abortion industry, which, “along with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, steadfastly refuses to admit to any complications to abortion.” These parties refuse to admit the shortcomings of abortion clinic procedures as well as the abortion procedures themselves. Calhoun said, “All other providers must have strict protocols in place” and “in other areas of medicine, malpractice” would ensue if Gosnell-type conditions were discovered in non-abortion medical clinics. Yet, said Calhoun, “The abortion industry howls with dismay” at attempts to standardize and clean up abortion clinic standards.
Calhoun found “over 140 papers demonstrating increased risk for pre-term birth” after an abortion. Pre-term births, as Calhoun said, can result in a high chance of cerebral palsy or other disabilities. The risk of pre-term births has been shown to increase “35 to 64% for just a single abortion.”
Additionally, Calhoun cited studies that showed an “increased risk of mental health issues post-abortion.” For example, he found one study that said, “81% of increased mental health problems in women post-abortion” as well as “10% of mental health problems in women in general can be specifically attributed to abortion.” Finland, in studies, discovered a “three-to-four times increased risk for death after abortion” because “suicide rates were increased 50 to 600%” of those who have abortion compared to giving birth.
These studies, said Calhoun, “would seem credible enough to an individual,” but that is not the case with the abortion industry. He and others felt, “Holding the abortion industry and abortion providers to the minimum” seems rational. He pushed for abortion clinics to adopt the “same accepted guidelines and same accepted procedures” as well as the “same credentials, same training, same oversight that every other” medical service provided in the United States.
Collett added to Calhoun’s remarks from a law professor’s perspective. She said the U.S. Supreme Court “got increasingly radical” after striking down a law requiring a second physician be present at an abortion for safety reasons, yet “upheld” a statistical reporting law in Pennsylvania. The inconsistency befuddles Collett, but overall, the Supreme Court has “taken a dim view of reporting numbers of abortions…the sort of normal health information that would be necessary in order to determine its public health impact.” The highest court in the United States even “carved out a unique role” for minors to secretly bar their parents’ involvement in abortions through a secret court system. Collett called this the “only proceeding outside of national security hearings where someone can lose constitutional rights” without warning or knowledge.
Eventually, the Supreme Court required licensing and other requirements to ensure better regulations by the states. At one point, “Pennsylvania had some of the most effectively operated and regulated clinics in the country” before “politics intervened.”
The Gosnell clinic and their violations were only discovered after the state was investigating whether “he was dealing illegal drugs.” The Gosnell case, where graphic images and descriptions surfaced through testimonies, creates an “impetus across the states” to ensure better enforcement of health standards in abortion clinics.
Collett pointed out, “RU486, the abortion pill, did not go through the normal vetting and testing and clinical trials that we see of other drugs.” This leaves “our women unprotected”, she said. In Minnesota, a state that “regulates hair braiding,” a woman in labor could feasibly abort her child without legal consequence. Minnesota “will not regulate doctors who are doing abortions” and is “misguided” to push for “access to abortions no matter how unsafe.”
On the flip side, Texas is “serious about protecting women’s health” with their current laws and regulations on the books. “An all-woman panel said that, of course, the state of Texas had an adequate state interest” with the recent passage of laws pushing for regulation of abortion clinics.