Thursday, February 17, 2011

How pro-choicers keep dangerous abortion clinics open

William Saletan has a piece at Slate, part of which was originally intended for his book, regarding the factions in the abortion industry on how pro-choice organizations refused to speak up against subpar abortion clinics.
But much of what's documented in the Philadelphia report—unsanitary conditions, sloppy anesthesia, unlicensed practitioners, busted emergency equipment, lax record-keeping, and a patient's death—was found in the Florida clinics, too. And when legislators tried to step in, abortion rights advocates stopped them.......

Providers varied considerably in motives and quality. Insiders divided them evenly into two categories: mission clinics and entrepreneurs. Mission clinics often operated in rural areas, especially in central and north Florida. The only people willing to perform abortions in the face of the hostility common to such regions were those driven by moral commitment. Most were maverick feminists. Where nobody else would meet women's needs, they would. Entrepreneurs favored more profitable, tolerant, and anonymous urban areas. If business went bad, they would pack up and turn to other trades. But the mission clinics would find a way to stay open......

Twenty-three clinics in Florida belonged neither to NAF nor to FLAC. Some had failed to meet the requisite standards. Others hadn't bothered to apply. Nearly all were entrepreneurial. Most were owned by doctors. Many were concentrated in a stretch of south Florida, around Miami, that was foreign to leaders of the clinic associations. These clinics didn't cooperate with the associations on peer review. They enjoyed the legal protections hard won by activist providers but shared none of the work or expense. And stories about them, involving dissatisfied patients and substandard care, circulated among the more responsible clinics.

In south Florida, conscientious providers privately blacklisted the bad clinics and avoided referring women to them. Many referred patients only to NAF or FLAC members. But making this private rating system public seemed unthinkable. As little as the good providers trusted the bad ones, they trusted the government less. Nothing would make them break their silence. Not even a woman's death.


  1. Not just A woman's death. (I assume he's referring to Ellen Williams at Dadeland.) There were also Shirley Payne, Myrta Baptiste, Ruth Montero, and Maura Morales at Women's Care Clinic. And Gloria Small at Orlando Birthing Center.

    That I, personally, know of.

    And Nabil Ghali's Blue Coral would certainly give Gosnell's clinic a run for its money on the filth scale. Blue Coral was temporarily shut down under an emergency order describing "deplorable conditions," including: a suction device with "green mold" growing in it, improperly discarded bloodstained sponges, generally poor infection control
    about 70 different kinds of medication with expired dates, unsafely administered general anesthesia, stirrups covered with blood, and untrained workers monitoring women in recovery. An inspector was quoted as saying, "When we got there, there wasn't any soap in the place, so our inspectors had to go next door to wash their hands."

    Ladies First Medical Center was temporarily closed by the board of health in 1989 "after finding dead cockroaches in a sterilizing room, unsanitary surgical gloves, expired drugs and bloody equipment." Inspectors also noted: bloody equipment, no hot water and no soap at the clinic's sinks, supposedly sterile gauze pads that were stained yellow, "hundreds of medicines and medical supplies that had expired years ago and other medications with no expiration date, indicating they were manufactured before 1978". The Health Secretary described Ladies First as "just filthy, the worst I've seen." One of the inspectors told a reporter, "I spent years inspecting clinics in prisons all through Florida. And we wouldn't have waited a minute to close a prison clinic long before it ever looked this bad. I couldn't believe how bad this place was."

  2. Saletan also fails to hold FLAC members accountable for not at least warning women about seedy mills. Okay, you don't want the state involved -- but to just refrain from referring there yourself is a cop out. It's as if you know that a local day care center has hired a known child molester, but instead of advertising this fact, you just let the children of strangers be abused while sending your friends elsewhere with their kids.