The Washington Post August 29 editorial, “Virginia lawmakers’ false war on abortion,” does a tremendous disservice to women in Virginia by equating access to abortion with women’s health. (I sent a letter to the editor to the Post, but it was not printed. I am grateful to National Review Online for the opportunity to correct the record.) Until very recently, most abortion clinics in the U.S. had the same health standards as beauty salons. According to Americans United for Life’s most recent Defending Life report, in 2013, only three states, including Virginia, enforce typical outpatient-surgical-facility standards (i.e., ambulatory) for abortion clinics. All other states have lesser or even no regulations for abortion clinics!
Abortion is an invasive surgery (removing something healthy, not diseased — a growing baby). Facilities performing such procedures should absolutely have a high bar on health standards. Tragically, at least 450 women have died in the U.S. as a direct result of legal abortion, according to the CDC. This is a very low estimate; the actual number of deaths due to abortion is likely much higher, as the data is only from 1973-2007 and excludes a number of states, such as California, which claims a full quarter of all abortions nationwide.
Closer to home (but not reflected in the CDC data), in Pennsylvania two women and many babies lost their lives in Kermit Gosnell’s deplorable clinic prior to its closing in 2011. In neighboring Maryland an elementary-school teacher died of a botched late-term abortion last year. These are only a few of the many women who have lost their lives as a result of seeking a legal abortion.
In the totally unrestricted world the Washington Post editorial board seems to support, both the mother and baby are put at enormous risk. Virginia lawmakers deserve praise for putting women first, and perhaps the editors of the Washinton Post should consider placing women’s health before politics.
Jeanne Monahan is president of the March for Life.