The Corner

The New Yorker Reports on Exploitative Abortion Clinics

Eyal Press’s latest New Yorker story is a must-read, chronicling the history of Steven Brigham, a doctor who continues to run abortion clinics despite numerous sanctions. “Why is he still in business?” the subhead queries.

Press – himself the son of a doctor who performed abortions — presents a nuanced view but doesn’t hold back from chronicling some of the more gruesome details from Brigham’s clinics:

There were stories of abortions being done without a registered nurse on hand, of blood on the floor, and of drugs being administered by untrained personnel. There was a report of plastic instruments being washed with Dial soap and reused. In 2001, a patient said that, after calling the clinic with emergency complaints two weeks after an abortion, she had been told to “have a shot of rum.” In 2002, a former employee of Brigham’s sent . . . an e-mail in which she described being “witness to a suction machine accident, in which a second trimester procedure was sprayed all over me and got in my eyes and mouth.”

I was surprised at how much this story had in common with one I wrote last year about a Florida-based chain of abortion clinics.

In both instances, physicians had botched abortions, harming the women who were seeking care; in both instances, there was a strange lack of malpractice insurance; in both instances, unlicensed employees were performing medical procedures; and in both instances, the clinic owner had been forbidden from “directly or indirectly” running an abortion shop – and shortly after, ownership was transferred to close kin.

The argument about abortion often centers around the morality of killing the unborn. But Press’s story really hammers home the impact on the vulnerable women who often find themselves exploited at sketchy abortion clinics:

Allegations that Brigham took advantage of women—especially poor women—first surfaced back in Wyomissing, [Pennsylvania] when Planned Parenthood discovered that the “low fees” he advertised weren’t so low. In 1991, Nancy Osgood, of Planned Parenthood, told the Reading Eagle that Brigham’s prices for second-trimester abortions were considerably higher than those of his competitors. In addition, his clinic accepted jewelry and other personal property as collateral from indigent patients, who were then sent to a nearby loan office. Osgood called these practices “noxious.”

. . . Between 2000 and 2008, the over-all abortion rate fell by eight per cent. But among poor women it rose by eighteen per cent. African-American women are nearly four times as likely as white women to get an abortion. This shift is often attributed to rising inequality, with lower-income women having less access to the most effective forms of contraception, less sex education, and less ability to bear the cost of an unanticipated child.

Jen Boulanger [one of Press’s sources in the abortion industry] told me that although many of the patients who complained to her about Brigham’s Allentown clinic were poor, some were middle-class professionals. Shame, not poverty, led many women to expect to be treated shabbily at an abortion clinic. Unscrupulous providers, she argued, exploited this stigma.

Read the whole New Yorker story here.

Jillian Kay Melchior — Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

Most Popular

Culture

Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his editor, I’m going to have to keep this short. I’ve spent most of every day this week in a studio recording the audiobook version of my dead-tree/pixel ... Read More
Immigration

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More
U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Religion

Billy Graham: Neither Prophet nor Theologian

Asked in 1972 if he believed in miracles, Billy Graham answered: Yes, Jesus performed some and there are many "miracles around us today, including television and airplanes." Graham was no theologian. Neither was he a prophet. Jesus said "a prophet hath no honor in his own country." Prophets take adversarial ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More