By Kathryn Jean Lopez
This January, we will mark 41 years of the Supreme Court's decision to legalize abortion. Just this year, we heard gruesome, inhumane details from a Philadelphia abortion clinic, though the mainstream media had to be shamed into covering the trial of Kermit Gosnell, the abortionist behind that tragic house of horrors. And now, California has an answer to the Gosnell problem: It's -- wait for it -- increased access to abortion.
Non-doctors -- nurses, midwives and physicians' assistants -- are now legal abortion providers in California; the Early Access to Abortion Bill allows them to perform a certain kind of first-trimester abortion.
While advocates of the bill dismiss reasonable concerns, Dr. Elissa Sanchez-Speach worries: "Supporters of this bill are missing the point. If we truly want to see (fewer) abortions ... we need to (provide) better support for women to bear children and raise their families."
While the California move has been suggested as a remedy to the Gosnells of the world, the conscience of a nation demands a deeper reflection.
"Lowering medical professionalism is precisely what produced Kermit Gosnell," J.D. Mullane, a local Pennsylvania reporter who sat in on the Gosnell trial points out. Gosnell was providing an increasingly unpopular procedure. The state did not act on health-inspection violations, "and so Gosnell was able to have a 15-year-old kid, and other marginally trained staff, administer powerful sedatives and birth-inducing drugs."
During a year when the president of the United States called upon God himself to bless the work of Planned Parenthood, the organization's advocacy arm assures us that the new law "reaffirms California's leadership on women's health issues as anti-choice legislation sweeps the nation." This new law isn't about women's health, but old-school abortion politics.
Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life, calls California's abortion-expansion moves "a slap in the face to women across America." In addition to the non-physician abortions, a second bill moved to lower standards, to make abortions easier to do.
"Instead of getting serious about enforcing basic safety standards on abortion facilities," Hawkins observes, "pro-abortion forces have pushed through a new law that holds abortionists to less-strict health standards. When is this ever a good idea?"
Women and their health deserve better. Susanne Metaxas, of the Midtown Pregnancy Support Center in New York City, worries that the California move "preys on the most vulnerable in society and creates a false impression of what an abortion is and minimizes the physical, spiritual and emotional consequences of an abortion."
Abortion exists because our culture believes it is necessary. Why does Planned Parenthood advocate for increased abortion access? Why would anyone believe that loosened standards would prevent more tragedies? Why is California considered a trailblazer for women's health and safety? Because abortion makes certain lifestyles possible, and is easier than trying to overhaul culture and find better solutions for women, children and men, easier than expecting more of our families and our country. It's ugly. It's painful. So we try to look away. It's even easier to look away in California now. Which is even more of a reason to refuse to do so.
"The creation of the unlimited abortion license -- at any time, for any reason -- works to isolate women in their decision about abortion," Clarke Forsythe writes in his new book on the history of Roe v. Wade, "Abuse of Discretion." "Choice is the public mantra," he continues, "autonomy is supposedly the principle, but the dark side of autonomy is isolation and loneliness." That darkness is spreading, and it's doing so in plain sight, under the aegis of law and government.
We know too much, we've heard too much, we've seen too much to think that more abortion is what we need.
Doctors are making choices about whether to be purveyors of a culture of death, while women too often feel they have no choice, the pressures of society being so greatly biased in favor of an abortion, a supposed quick fix. We must do better.