On Tuesday, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) released a video called “Comedians in Cars Getting Abortions,” in which comedian Alice Wetterlund travels around town trying desperately — and unsuccessfully — to find a place to get an abortion.
Aside from the fact that this topic really isn’t a laughing matter (the comedians in the video discuss procuring an abortion in casual terms, as if they’re hunting for the best burrito spot in town), it depicts a nonexistent abortion shortage that supposedly is depriving women of their reproductive rights.
If this video is to be believed, abortion clinics in the U.S. are about as scarce as Blockbuster video stores, and apparently even the clinics that do exist are hampered by so many ridiculous laws that they might as well not be there at all.
This straw-man argument has been expounded heavily by NARAL and other pro-abortion groups as the House of Representatives considered the Conscience Protection Act this week. The Act, which was passed by the House on Wednesday afternoon, prohibits federal or state governments from discriminating against health-care providers based on their refusal to be involved in abortion.
NARAL’s argument, in this video and elsewhere, is based on the false premise that, unless religious health-care providers are coerced into providing or covering abortions, women will be left wandering the streets with nowhere to turn for their “reproductive health care” needs.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. A quick search of Brooklyn on Planned Parenthood’s website, for example, immediately returns ten abortion clinics within fifteen miles of the borough. And Planned Parenthood’s website boasts of more than 600 centers nationwide, guaranteed to provide women with abortions. None of these will disappear if the Conscience Protection Act becomes law.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2011, there were 1,720 abortion providers in the U.S., including hospitals, abortion clinics, and private physicians’ offices. Presuming that none of these providers are religious entities — which they probably aren’t, given that they provide abortion — this number would not be affected at all by the Conscience Protection Act.
The primary effect of the Act would be to respect the conscience rights of doctors, nurses, health-insurance providers, pharmacists, and taxpayers who don’t want to be involved in abortion. Even President Obama, once upon a time, advocated conscience protection. In a 2009 address at Notre Dame, he said, “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion and draft a sensible conscience clause.”
But apparently honoring the consciences of religious health-care providers and procuring abortions anywhere else isn’t good enough for NARAL. Abortion has to be available everywhere.
This conflict over conscience rights is just one more example of the fact that, in today’s culture, intense, nearly rabid support for abortion must be the norm. Permitting abortion is not enough; religious citizens also must be forced to approve of it with their medical expertise and their tax dollars.