Being Anti-Choice Doesn’t Come with a Medical Degree

Meet Jennifer Rubin, a columnist who seems to believe that being anti-choice has granted her both a medical degree and a seat in the legislature. She took advantage of her large platform in the Washington Post on May 1 to argue for intense restrictions on abortion access, using the horrors of Kermit Gosnell’s “clinic” as justification for claiming that abortion is inherently dangerous and needs to be tightly regulated.

She’s not the only one. Many anti-choice commentators like her seem to believe that their position as “advocates for the unborn” grants them a unique perspective from which to speak, allowing them to bounce through medical school, boards and residency to become fully practicing physicians with extensive experience in patient care. Those who become legislators are even worse, wielding not only the power of rhetoric but also the strength of the law.

As long as anti-choice advocates think they can dictate the practice of medicine in the United States, women’s lives are at risk. And the rate at which this trend is occurring is in a rapid state of acceleration, with more and more states passing legislation specifically aimed at limiting abortion access. Their argument is that abortion is dangerous and patients need more protection, despite the fact that this flies in the face of scientific research on the subject. 0.3% of abortion patients experience complications significant enough that they need to go to the hospital, making it an extremely safe procedure, especially when performed early.

Did I mention that abortion, like other medical procedures, is already regulated? An extensive network of laws, agencies, and policies set forth by professional organizations dictates the practice of medicine, including abortion and related services, in the United States. Clinics offering medical services must undergo inspections, adhere to the rule of the law, and submit to additional scrutiny if they want to belong to groups like the National Abortion Federation.

Such legislation, known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP), can take aim at a number of things to  make it more difficult for people to provide abortions, and for patients to access them. Common tactics involve stricter regulation of abortion clinics, such as reclassifying them to outpatient surgical centers, mandated ultrasounds and other procedures, and requirements for waiting periods, as well as hospitalization requirements. These may require fundamental structural changes to clinics that are too expensive to implement, effectively shutting them down. Legislators, meanwhile, can claim innocence when people complain; after all, they were just protecting patients!

One such example can be seen in Virginia, which recently tightened building codes on abortion clinics and abortion clinics only.  Almost immediately, clinics were forced to close because they couldn’t meet the building standards, ostensibly put in place to help in an emergency, but really designed to make it too expensive for clinics to remain operational.

Gosnell’s “clinic” has been used as an example of how dangerous abortion can be, but it’s really an illustration of what happens when TRAP laws, poverty and social pressures combine to drive women underground for abortion. As anti-choice advocates use the dire conditions at his clinic as an illustration for the need for tighter regulation, they ignore the fact that existing regulations already mandate inspections and other safety measures, and that care providers are very committed to patient care and safety.

The distortion of the reality of abortion care is a huge issue with anti-choice advocates playing doctor; for example, they repeatedly insist that there should be bans on “late-term” abortion or “partial-birth” abortion, a term which is not medically recognized. This despite the fact that according to CDC statistics, less than 1.5% of abortions take place after 21 weeks, and almost 92% were performed at less than 13 weeks — numbers which could change if women can’t access timely abortion care.

As, for example, if a series of waiting periods and required counseling makes it difficult to get enough time off to get an early abortion.

The more the right plays doctor, the harder it is for actual doctors to provide medical care. With growing restrictions on the safe practice of medicine, doctors may find themselves in situations where they face conflicts between ethical patient care and the law, or situations where they don’t even know what’s legal because legislators have such a limited understanding of medicine that they’ve written laws too broadly to be interpreted. Doctors, as the deceased Dr. Tiller once said, should be able to “trust women” to make informed decisions about their health in consultation with an informed clinician, but anti-choice advocates are making that more and more difficult.

Regulation of medicine is absolutely critical, but it’s best left to people without political agendas.


Related articles:

TRAP Law Forces Tennessee Clinic to Close

Dispatches from the War on Women: Red-Taping Abortion Clinics Out of Existence

Virginia Changes its Mind, Betrays Women Again


Photo credit: Lauren Nelson


Lynn Demsky
Lynn D4 years ago

Thank you!

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago


Uddhab Khadka
Uddhab Khadka4 years ago

Thank you.

pam w.
pam w4 years ago

John...I owe you a SHOWER of green stars for those comments! WELL DONE!

John Hablinski
John Hablinski4 years ago

Sherrie B. you explained yourself beautifully and I think you spoke for perhaps all people who are “pro women’s choice.” How dare anyone attempt to dictate to another a decision which can only be made in the depth of a woman’s heart? If you oppose abortion don’t have one. But no one gives a damn how you feel about it. If you think your god disapproves, pay attention, no one gives a damn. Another’s god feels very differently about the subject and your god is no more important than anyone else’s. Nor is your god of any importance to someone who doesn’t believe in god. You are entitled to any religious belief but keep it to yourself. If you think you know the mind of god on any subject you are a damned fool; no human has that capability.

Doug McKenna
Doug McKenna4 years ago

thanks for the post

pam w.
pam w4 years ago LEAST ten people here have reminded you that your opinions are your own (and you're welcome to them, of course) just as other women have every right to make their own decisions.

You may prattle on with dubious ''statistics'' and half-truths all you wish, but I, for one of MANY, will no longer read your posts.


char l.
Past Member 4 years ago

Cyan, you can count me in that 52% of "sometimes" legal people, but I am pro-choice. I think any woman should be able to get an abortion in the first trimester, no questions asked, for any reason.

Second trimester abortions should be safe, legal, and rare. Acceptable reasons might be illness, exposure to toxins that might damage the fetus, unforeseen financial hardships, etc. Third trimester, or late-term, abortions should be available only for the mother's health/life or gross fetal abnormalities. I do think that if a woman/couple find out in the third trimester that their fetus has either life-threatening or profound mental defects that abortion should be an option.

Not everyone has either the financial nor mental resources to cope with a profoundly damaged child, nor is it fair to a child to live like the Santorum baby - constantly in pain for her whole short life. You wouldn't do that to your DOG. But in the end, only that family can assess the impact on themselves and any other children already in the home.

But don't think all of those "sometimes legal" people ONLY think in terms of rape/incest/life of mother exceptions. A lot of people have views similar to mine. Which are, BTW, pretty much the status quo before all the wingnuts went to town on women's rights.

Cletus W.
Cletus W.4 years ago

Cyan -- As you do so often, you post a lot of words, but they 'say' very little. An argument, or a point of discussion, does not carry by how many words are used in its defense. It is the cogency of logic and self-supporting truth that the words convey.

Your words rarely convey anything of cogency, and as they do here, they merely frivolously deny and defy those basic FACTS which don't happen to line up with your malignant world view. They are a DEFLECTION from cogency.

So instead of playing your game of "feed the frantic Teatard", I will get to the bottom line for you arrogant meddlers in other people's lives:
-- You have a right to your beliefs about abortion, and you are free to carry them out on yourself and to advocate them within your own family.
-- You have NO right to invest and hinder my freedoms or my family's freedoms with your beliefs. Civil rights is NOT about majority rule. Rightwing drama queens like yourself are free to vote for people who enslave you in your local regions of Dumbf**kistan; but the Bill of Rights says that your feeble beliefs about majority enslavement do NOT apply to my civil rights.
-- Mind your own business; I suspect it needs much minding, given the malformed intellect at play with unpatriotic themes.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

Cyan said "The fact remains that with or without exceptions the majority oppose abortion."

If a person says abortion should be legal in "under some circumstances" or "sometimes legal" you don't get to count them them as "anti-abortion" particularly when 70% of people DO NOT want Roe v. Wade overturned.

You can't just twist polls and make shit up to support your opinion. All of my poll stats were cited with links, so folks can see for themselves.

I am sorry that facts are getting in the way of your argument (that is a problem most folks on the right seem to have), but you just have to deal with it.