WHAT OTHERS SAY: State abortion bill addresses safety issues

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 | 2:27 p.m. CST

Abortion remains one of the most pertinent morality issues that divides the United States.

More than half of the people polled in this country — 52 percent in 2013 — believe abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances, according to Gallup polls.

Twenty-six percent believe it should be legal under any circumstance; and 20 percent believe it should not be legal under any circumstance. To put it another way, about 72 percent of Americans polled believe abortion should be illegal in some form.

However, according to Gallup, only 29 percent believe the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal, Roe v. Wade, should be overturned.

Recently, Cape Girardeau Republican Kathy Swan sponsored a bill — co-sponsored by more than 100 lawmakers — that addresses the inspections of abortion clinics and the definition of "medical emergency" that could "necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert the death of the pregnant woman."

Swan's bill would require an abortion facility in Missouri to be inspected at least four times annually.

The bill is seen as a priority for the lobbyist group Missouri Right to Life. The bill's goal is to impose "stricter inspection requirements and more accountability for abortion clinics," the lobbying group's president, Pam Fichter, was quoted as saying in a recent Associated Press article.

According to the AP, Missouri has only one facility performing elective abortions, and that is the Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis.

The president and CEO of the facility noted in the article the state already has the ability to inspect the facility as frequently as it chooses without advance notice. Right to Life reported that witnesses have seen 23 instances of ambulances responding to the clinic over four years, the article stated.

According to the AP, an inspection last January showed several findings, including:

  • Copious amounts of visible dust/dirt on air vents.
  • Some boxes of surgical gloves and three postpartum balloons used to control bleeding had expired.
  • Expired drugs on hand, including ammonia inhalant used for fainting, Valium for sedation and a drug used to counter the effects of a narcotic overdose.

These issues were corrected to inspectors' satisfaction, the story said, at an unannounced inspection several weeks later.

Our view of this legislation is we hope it somehow forwards the objective of respecting life.

Many recall the horror stories of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who was found guilty of killing three newborns in a filthy clinic in Philadelphia.

It makes sense that inspections should be routine to prevent such atrocities.

Swan, in a recent interview with the editorial board, said she was trained in nursing and found it troubling the Missouri violations were found. She said the bill is a "proactive" one that will prevent Planned Parenthood from slipping into worse conditions.

Another aspect of Swan's bill is to remove the threat of suicide as a reason for a medical emergency. If not deemed a medical emergency, women must wait 24 hours after seeing a doctor (a separate bill aims to extend the wait time to 72 hours) to have the abortion.

We understand the bill is being modified to provide suicide counseling. There is no question many women who seek abortions are emotionally distressed when they make the decision to abort. However, such claims could be used to skirt the law.

In general, the bill looks to be a step in the right direction for those who value the lives of the unborn and for the women who have the right to expect safe medical care.

Copyright Southeast Missourian. Distributed by the Associated Press.

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