In April 1998, Lou Anne Herron, a 33-year-old mother with two young children already at home, entered the A-Z Women’s Center in Phoenix seeking a late-term abortion.
An initial ultrasound examination showed that Ms. Herron was 26 weeks pregnant, 2 weeks beyond the limit of Arizona’s ban on post-viability abortions. Undeterred, clinic staff performed multiple ultrasounds before obtaining one that “estimated” a gestational age of 23 weeks, knowingly disregarding Arizona law.
Abortionist John Biskind then performed the dangerous and illegal abortion, tearing a two-inch hole in Ms. Herron’s uterus. Medical evidence indicates that, within 10 minutes of the abortion being completed, Ms. Herron was in “serious trouble.” As she lay in what medical assistants described as a pool of blood that soaked the bedding and ran down her legs, Ms. Herron was heard crying for help and asking what was wrong with her.
Where was the abortionist, Biskind? He was eating lunch in the break room, refusing requests to check her condition, and later left her bleeding and unconscious to visit his tailor.
Ms. Herron later died, after being left in the care of panicked and inadequately-trained medical assistants and bleeding for more than two hours in the clinic’s inadequately-outfitted recovery room.
In response, Arizona legislators acted quickly to adopt comprehensive health and safety regulations for abortion clinics operating in the state. These regulations came to be known as “Lou Anne’s Law.”
However, on the eve of the regulations going into effect in April 2000, Arizona abortion advocates sued to block their enforcement.
More concerned with their profit margins than women’s health and safety, they cynically claimed that the regulations were prohibitively costly to implement and medically-inappropriate, blatantly ignoring that the regulations were based on national abortion care standards promulgated by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation.
Americans United for Life quickly joined forces with Arizona officials to defend “Lou Anne’s Law” and, last week, after more than ten years of litigation and desperate obstructionism by abortion advocates, Arizona’s comprehensive abortion clinic regulations went into effect.
Enacting comprehensive abortion clinic regulations is a critical and sensible solution to the problem of unsafe abortions in America. These regulations are designed to safeguard against unsanitary conditions, inferior equipment, and the employment of unsuitable and untrained personnel. They are also intended to put an end to substandard medical practices that injure and kill untold numbers of women each year.
States have the authority to intervene and the duty and responsibility to act when a public health problem exists.
One woman’s death is too many. One woman left infertile because of any infection caused by unsanitary conditions is too many. One woman rushed bleeding to an emergency room with a punctured uterus because her abortionist was in a hurry to complete as many abortions as he or she could in an afternoon is too many. The abortion industry will not police itself, so state officials must act to protect women.