As Americans continue to shift towards pro-life views, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) has issued a report analyzing the continuing decline in abortion providers and calling for abortion to be accepted as a part of mainstream health care.
In its “Defending Human Rights” report, the CRR voiced its concern over the declining number of abortion providers throughout the country. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the number of abortion providers in the U.S. declined by 25% between 1992 and 2005.
The report found that some states in the U.S. currently have as few as one abortion provider. International abortion providers are struggling as well, as indicated by the ending of the Women on Waves organization, which used to operate a boat in international seas, providing abortifacient pills for women living in countries where abortion is illegal.
In particular, the CRR noted with concern that there are “few new, young doctors entering the field” and as a result, the number of abortion providers “is dwindling almost across the board.”
The CRR attributes this decrease to harassment and attacks that it claims are “routinely targeted” at abortion providers and clinics.
Mary Spaulding Balch, state legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, told CNA that she believes the real reason for this decrease in abortionists is the nature of abortion itself.
“I think they have been diminishing in number for years because this is the type of trade that is contrary to the reason that people go to medical school,” said Spaulding Balch, observing that most people enter the medical field with hopes of preserving and saving life, not destroying it.
“It’s difficult to find people willing to be abortionists,” she said. “It’s not easy on the nerves.”
Spaulding Balch believes that the lack of young doctors entering the abortion industry is due largely due to a change in perspective due to new technology, including ultrasounds and fetal surgery. The older generation of doctors began practicing when ultrasounds were not common and fetal surgery was nonexistent, she explained.
But developments in those two areas make it very clear that the unborn child is indeed a living human being. “Newer generations of doctors are understanding the unborn child as the second patient,” she told CNA.
The CRR report also denounced laws requiring a waiting period before obtaining an abortion, as well as those that require an ultrasound to be performed, or counseling and materials to be given to women. The publication claimed that such information is “irrelevant, unnecessary, misleading, or medically inappropriate information” for women considering an abortion.
Spaulding Balch responded to this claim by saying that abortion supporters are hesitant to inform women because “the more information a woman has on the subject, the less likely she is to go forward with the abortion.”
“If they were truly pro-choice, as they claim to be, they would not be afraid of giving the woman more information, so that she can make the best choice possible,” she continued, noting the important role of information in true consent.
Rather than being “irrelevant” or “medically inappropriate,” Spaulding Balch explained to CNA that the information required to be given to women seeking an abortion is actually “simple and basic.”
This information includes a description of what the abortion procedure entails, possible risks of the procedure and possible alternatives. “This would be considered normal and reasonable information for any other procedure,” she said.
“This information is all reasonable, rational, and relevant to the decision the mother is about to make.”
Another topic included in the CRR report is the “stigma” of abortion providers among medical professionals and the general public. The document says that abortion is “marginalized and perceived as ‘dirty’ and outside of normal medicine practice,” and that this negative image results in many doctors refusing to perform, assist in, or even refer abortions.
The report claims that this stigma exists “because abortion is not integrated into mainstream healthcare.”
Saying that it is a “normal human reaction” for people to be repulsed by the idea of abortion, Spaulding Balch rejected CRR's argument. “There is something inherently evil about it,” she said, explaining that people understand this instinctively, and that is why they are still not comfortable with it, even 30 years after its legalization.
Spaulding Balch contrasted abortion with other medical procedures that are uncommon or may be otherwise “not integrated into mainstream health care,” but which the general public does not view with distrust. The fact that it is not mainstream health care is not the cause of the revulsion, she said. Rather, it is the horror of the abortion itself. “There is an inherent distinction between treating a rare disease and killing a living human.”
The publication of the report comes amid discussions of a health care reform package that would allow abortion to be required as a minimum health care benefit. Spaulding Balch explained to CNA that abortion advocates are working intensely to have the package approved in an attempt to save the dying industry.
“The abortion industry knows that they need this for their survival. They must make abortion part of mainstream health care, or the industry will see its demise,” she said.