Repro Wrap: Lies, Damned Lies and Abortion Trials
How do you make a judge angry? Just ask Dr. John Thorp. Testifying in favor of requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals in Wisconsin, Dr. Thorp, a member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologist, refused to answer a question from a judge about the safety of abortion, instead hedging that abortion complications are notoriously under reported so statistics are meaningless and unreliable.
“[U.S. District Judge William] Conley then quipped that the discussion reminded him of the quote popularized by author Mark Twain that there are lies, damn lies and statistics,” reports Yahoo News. The doctor then accused the judge of calling him a liar. The judge retorted he was doing no such thing.
The heated exchange isn’t surprising in a court battle where even science and fact is being accused of having bias. Judge Conley was advised to bring in his own “expert” on abortion safety and complications, because there was too much likelihood that the plaintiff’s and defendant’s experts would have a slant. That potentially biased expert opposing admitting privileges that can’t be trusted? The president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Yes, the president.
Things have been much the same in Alabama, too, where admitting privileges requirements have also been on hold. In that trial, a larger focus has been on how hard it is to get doctors to work in clinics in the first place due to the harassment they receive, and that putting an additional burden on those physicians (as well as opening the hospitals that offer those privileges up to similar harassment) could make the requirement virtually impossible to adhere to.
Even more devastating to abortion access is what could happen to the clinics left behind. One clinic, who already has privileges, is struggling with the other side of the law — a demand to have a particularly zone and build clinic under particular regulations. For the Huntsville, Ala., clinic, that simply can’t be done where they are, and they are seeking a new building instead. But word of the move has already made it to the ear of anti-choice activists who are vowing to stop them from obtaining a new location, knowing that without a move, they will simply have to shut down.
Toledo is about to get its last attempt to keep its clinic open rejected by the state, which means a lawsuit will likely be down the road. Oklahoma’s admitting privileges bill was signed into law this week, which is similar to the recent one in Louisiana and Texas. In fact, as Slate reports, it’s a battle to take out most of the clinics in the South. Admitting privileges will also mean hospitals are the lynchpin for abortion access by keeping clinics open. And once we are down to hospitals being the gatekeeper for abortion providers, expect protests on hospital to ramp up even more.
A Louisiana law now forbids anyone associated with an abortion provider from distributing “any public health information” at a school. West Virginia Democrats are now beginning to support the idea of a special session just for a 20 week ban, simply because allowing Republicans to maneuver for one could open it up to a myriad of other potential legislation, too. Also, the Attorney General of Arkansas has decided to appeal the injunction against the state’s heartbeat ban, which bans abortion at 12 weeks post conception, essentially banning abortion after the first trimester. In Missouri, the men behind the new 72 hour wait admit all they ever wanted to do was make women wait longer because then they would just stay pregnant.
In Tennessee the fight over a ballot initiative to allow the legislature to be able to pass more abortion restrictions is getting ugly, with opponents of the initiative calling abortion opponents the Tennessee Taliban. Nationally, the federal judge nominated by President Barack Obama has now been discovered to have accidentally “forgot” about how bad — and potentially deadly — some of the abortion restrictions he supported while he was a legislator really were.
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