As everyone knows, Planned Parenthood receives all the media attention, but lost in that single-minded focus is that while PPFA is indeed the biggest abortion chain, running some 37% of abortion clinics in the United States, that still leaves nearly two-thirds operated by others.
Some are part of smaller chains, but many are abortionists operating high volume independent clinics offering both chemical and surgical abortions, often up through the end of the second trimester, or even later. Indeed, one of its “bragging” points is that independent abortion clinics, not Planned Parenthood, perform most of the late term abortions and over 80% of the abortions after 22 weeks.
The Abortion Care Network (ACN) is a national association for “independent community-based, abortion care providers and their allies.” Its most recent report — “Communities Need Clinics: The Essential Role of Independent Abortion Clinics in the United States” — warns that these independent operators are dwindling and at risk from state regulations and funding cuts. “Independent clinic closures are unrelenting,” the report says early on, claiming its numbers have dropped by more than a third since 2012.
About a third of these are smaller well known Planned Parenthood competitors such as Whole Women’s Health, Carafem, and All Women’s Health that have some national reach. However many are simply large single location clinics such as Cherry Hill Women’s Center (NJ), Preterm (Cleveland, OH), Hope Clinic for Women (Granite City, IL).
Still, they hope that by binding together, they can better represent and defend their interests and highlight the key role they play in the abortion movement.
As recently as 2012, the Abortion Care Network says that it had identified 510 independent abortion clinics in the United States. Last month, ACN said there were only 337 of their clinics open, a decrease of more than a third.
They admit that the corona virus caused a strain, and complain greatly because of those governors who sought to limit medical visits to “essential care,” leaving abortion off the list of those essential services. Yet only 14 of their clinics have so far closed this year. The rest closed before COVID-19 ever hit.
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The report declares that independent clinics are more likely to operate in the “most politically hostile states” and are ”the most vulnerable to anti-abortion attacks and legislation intended to close clinic doors or push abortion out of reach.”
Abortion advocates have often pointed to the example of Texas in recent years as evidence of how a legislature can force many clinics out of business. Many independent abortionists there have disappeared, but it is worth noting that 13 of the independent clinic closures ACN cites as occurring from 2015 to 2020 come from California, which funds abortion and has virtually no restrictions, as well as other abortion friendly states like New York (-6) and Illinois (-6).
While safety regulations designed to protect women from unscrupulous, medically irresponsible abortionists for hire like these have surely had some impact, the ACN report fails to address the elephant in the room: that many of its clinics may have closed due to lack of demand as women have opted for life preserving alternatives that are better for both them and their babies.
It may be debated as to how much of the drop was due to the dwindling “supply” of clinics and how much was due to reduced demand, or how those two factors functioned symbiotically in the long term decline. But there is clearly some connection between the drop of more than 1,300 “abortion providers” from 2,918 in 1982 to 1,587 in 2017, and the corresponding drop of nearly 750,000 abortions from a high of 1,608,600 in 1990 to 862,320 in 2017, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute.
Declining numbers of independent abortion clinics are simply part of society’s larger, long term shift away from the culture of death.
The Worst of the Worst?
In asserting their special relevance to the abortion movement, members of the Abortion Care Network want people to know that not only do they provide “care” to three out of every five women having abortions in the United States, but they are the ones who are performing the later ones.
“Independent clinics represent 66 percent of all clinics that provide care beyond 16 weeks of pregnancy, 71 percent of clinics providing care beyond 19 weeks of pregnancy” the report informs us. And to top it off, “after 22 weeks of pregnancy,” they represent “81% of clinics providing abortion care…”
This appears to be a point of professional pride with the membership of ACN. And the closure their clinics is clearly a point of great concern.
“Over the last two years,” the report notes, “41 independent clinics have been forced to close in the United States. Of those clinics, 76 percent provided care after the first trimester.”
Given their specialization in these late term procedures, the report says “the continued closing of independent clinics presents a disproportionate threat to the availability of abortion care after the first trimester.”
Compared to the Competition
It is hard not to get the impression that independent abortion clinic operators are envious of the money, prestige, and political influence enjoyed by Planned Parenthood, their powerful rival.
Right off the bat, they want people to know that while that big chain may have cornered 37% of the abortion market, independent clinics actually do 58% of all the abortion “procedures” nationwide. (Hospitals at 3% and private physicians at 1% do the rest.)
As noted above, independent clinics perform the majority of late abortions. We know, from its own advertising, that Planned Parenthood has more than a hundred clinics offering second trimester abortions and at least fifteen advertise they perform abortions at 24 weeks. A couple more say they would do abortions at 23 weeks or 23 weeks and 6 days.
But clearly, this stomach-turning behavior is an area in which independent abortion clinics specialize.
Doing more of the surgical abortions
Just under half (48%) of Planned Parenthood clinics offer both “in-clinic” surgical abortions and chemical abortions (“medication abortion,” as they prefer to call them) Eighty percent of independent clinics do both.
Fifty-two percent of Planned Parenthood clinics offer only chemical or “medication” abortions. That was true of just 16% of independent clinics. (There was an additional 4% which only performed surgical abortions but not chemical ones.)
It isn’t stated directly, but this means that independent clinics are more likely to be where your surgically trained abortionists are found. Current FDA rules on chemical abortions only require that abortion drugs be prescribed under the supervision of a trained health care provider, meaning that there need be no one with surgical training on site, much less a doctor, for those abortions.
But it also means that independent clinics perform the more gruesome, complicated abortions, the ones that take longer, involve more steps, more instruments, the ones where the babies are torn out limb from limb, where the procedures are bloody and the humanity of the child is horrifically obvious.
Of course, Planned Parenthood does some of those too. Apparently, however, PPFA often prefers to send women home with abortion pills to have their bloody encounters with their children there, where the staff don’t have to watch or monitor the situation.
If those women have problems, others like the doctor at the local E.R., or your friendly neighborhood independent abortionist, can deal with that.
What Independent Abortion Clinics Want
At one level, this annual report is just a way to buck up the troops, to make them feel proud about their grisly work, their “sacrifices” (lost business, lost wages) during a tough pandemic year, to build a sense of identity, camaraderie among these isolated abortionists and their staffs. But at another level, this report clearly intends to bolster the reputation of these independent abortion clinics and to garner public support for their disturbing, macabre niche.
To address their “problem,” they call for communities to “support” these clinics. Specifically, to “Work with local and state advocates and reproductive health, rights and justice groups to end medically unnecessary, politically motivated restrictions,” to “introduce, pass and actualize policies that protect, ensure, fund and increase access to abortion care,” and to “donate to independent abortion clinics.”
All of their current advantages — the money flowing into these clinics from hundreds of thousands of patients a year, many paying premium prices for expensive late term abortions, the endless fawning media tributes, the protection of this sordid industry by the courts and their political allies – are apparently not enough for these people
They want you to help fund their sick business. They want your respect, too.
However, there’s no way you can make the cold-hearted killing of innocent unborn children a noble or virtuous act. It’s not something a decent society would, or should, support.
Better to close the clinics, find a new job in a healthcare industry desperately in need of healers, and let the moms thrive and the babies live.