How Many Abortions Does it Take to Become an Abortion Provider?

The state of Alabama believes it has a legitimate reason behind a new proposal that will limit the number of abortions a provider can perform before his or her office should be considered an abortion clinic. The measure would allegedly address the case of a doctor in the state who was accused of running an unlicensed abortion clinic, allegations that the doctor denied because he was not performing the 30 abortions per month that would require him to need licensing.

Abortion opponents have used the incident to rally for a new rule to reduce the number of procedures a physician can perform, declaring the need to protect a pregnant person’s health. But in reality, this may just be a trial balloon for seeking out more ways to block abortion access if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned.

Alabama has already lost a number of clinics over the years and is now down to just a handful of providers. Those few clinics that still operate are already open solely because of a legal challenge filed against a TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law passed in the last legislative session, one that would force the clinics to make expensive and medically unnecessary building remodeling and updates, as well as require that they each have transfer agreement with a local hospital.

With just five clinics remaining, the owners are struggling to try to come into compliance with the new rule, making the fight over how many abortions a doctor can perform before his or her office is considered a clinic an important one. As fewer patients are able to make it into clinics, those who have private family physicians will be more likely to turn to their own personal doctor and ask for help if they want to end an unwanted pregnancy. And with so many fewer options for their patients, more doctors may find themselves willing to consider doing it, although they would be unlikely to consider themselves actual abortion providers.

Obtaining an abortion through a family physician has long, historical precedent, especially when abortion was illegal. Many of the illegal providers pre-Roe were in fact family physicians who would occasionally terminate a pregnancy for a patient, with that remaining a close kept secret few were aware of unless they found themselves in need.

But as historian and sociologist Carole Joffe often writes, once abortion became legal, efforts began to remove the procedure and those who provide it from the rest of the general medical practice. As separate abortion clinics began opening, and later, more medical schools stopped requiring teaching how to terminate a pregnancy as a mandatory part of general medical care, the procedure and those who provide abortions became more isolated.

Obviously, with Roe still in effect and abortion still legal and accessible for the most part, albeit with more costs and difficulties every day, the concern over abortions in a doctor’s office doesn’t appear to be dire news. In the new proposal, the state of Alabama would require doctors to limit an abortion performed in the office from the current 30 a month to just 10, and a maximum of 100 per year. It’s a dramatic decrease, but would still likely allow physicians to perform the occasional abortion for a needy patient without forcing her to jump through the hoops that getting to one of the state’s few clinics would require.

But if the TRAP bill becomes unblocked, and clinics close either because they could not rebuild their facilities or, more likely, because they could not make a transfer agreement with a local hospital, then this 10 per month cap could be devastating. As clinics close, a patient is going to turn to her own physician as a last safe resort before she tries something far more desperate — and dangerous.

This proposal, which doesn’t need to go through the legislature but can be approved just by committee, isn’t about patient safety. It serves two purposes. The first is to continue to widen the gap between those who provide abortions and the rest of the medical community by forcing any physician who does more than a handful of abortions a month to “out” themselves as an abortion provider, as well as make it impossible for him or her to continue doing those terminations without massive financial costs.

The second is to put in place rules and regulations that already cut off access to alternate care should Roe ever be overturned, and states get to once more pass their own laws regarding when, where and if an abortion will be allowed. It’s an early warning shot to tell doctors that they will not be allowed to skirt any sort of regulations or laws if abortion is again made illegal.

At its most basic form, this is a proposal to force doctors who may perform the occasional termination into the public eye and to make them stop. If there was any doubt about that fact, it was dismissed by Jeanne Paxson, who testified in favor of the new limits, saying the new rule wouldn’t be enough and that a doctor must designate his or her office as an abortion clinic if even one abortion a month were performed there.

First they close the clinics, then they punish the doctors. With all providers cut off from providing care, they don’t need to overturn Roe. They will already have regulated abortion out of existence.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jerome S
Jerome S7 months ago


Jim Ven
Jim V7 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

women deserve the right to choose. period

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

It only takes 1 abortion to make an abortion provider. All providers should be licensed for the safety of women who seek them.

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago


Carole L.
Carole L4 years ago

Milan L
“How Many Killings Does it Take to Become an Killer?”

why don't you ask Zimmerman. Btw, I find your tripe to be quite condescending.

Jacob R
“Close the unlicensed clinics, throw those providers in jail, and empower licensed practitioners to perform legal abortions when justified.”

Sounds like you're wanting to place your brand on all women's uteri. You do realize just how many of us there are do you naught. You're going to be rather busy for a spell. Hope you don't get carpel tunnel... not to worry, Obama Care has an Affordable Healthcare Plan for that.

I find it interesting that there are those who screech about ACA 'being' "government intrusion". And practically in the same breathe demand government intrusion of women's uteri & reproduction choices. Do they even listen to themselves when they speak?

Carla v
“Yapping about fish and maths teachers and pre-Roe v Wade all the while willing to sacrifice women on the alter of their ideologies.”

when they know they're spouting bs, they pull out the math lesson thinking it will confuse the women folk.

B J.
BJ J4 years ago

Politicians have a responsibility to serve the people, not take away the people's rights.

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Michael T.
Michael T4 years ago

Milan you are amusing to watch as you twist and turn pretending to be ignorant of the context in which this is being discussed. Just a friendly warning as well.

I percieve that another definition to what I just wrote could also be termed yapping.

Milan Lorman
Milan Lorman4 years ago

@ pam w. - Please allow me to give you a friendly warning (although you apparently don't feel too friendly toward me). When you one day meet one of your pregnant friends, and you ask her:”How's your little parasite coming along?” - better wear a broad smile.

@ Carla v. - Yapping … am I? Well, here is one more YAP from this old dog on this subject at this time:

A little girl asks her mother: “Mama, where did I come from? Some people say the storks bring little babies, but I find that a bit stupid.” Mother replies: “ I don't call it stupid, dear. We say that to little children, because they would not understand the real story. But you are an 8-year old little lady so I shall explain it to you. You see, Your Mummy and Daddy love each other very much. And so on … … And then one day the Embryo is ready to start learning how to breathe all by itself and comes out into the fresh air. From then on we call it a Baby. Years pass and it becomes a sweet Child and then a young Woman. Then an adult woman and in the end an old Lady on her death bed. Those are the many stages of the eternal Story of Life. And it begins with the Embryo, not with the Stork. Some people say jokingly that it all begins even earlier – with the glint in the Fathers eye, but that is just a little harmless poetic expression. “