Record Closings of Abortion Clinics Portend Darker Days Ahead?

plannedparenthoodAccording to Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue there have been 44 abortion clinic closings this year. That would drive the total number of clinic closings since 1992 close to 75% of that year’s total. That is a monumental achievement for the pro-life movement, the fruit of decades of hard work by thousands. For as monumental as that achievement is, the persistently high numbers of annual abortions in the U.S., and California’s passing into law permission for physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and midwives to perform first trimester surgical abortions suggest that we may have only succeeded in picking the low-hanging fruit from the abortion tree.

In the chart below, Planned Parenthood’s statistician, the Guttmacher Institute, reports on the annual number of abortions since 1973. Notice that between 1990 and 2013 abortions fell from a high of 1.6 million per year to a steady 1.2 million per year. That’s a 25% decrease in the numbers of abortions in the same time period that we have closed close to 75% of abortion clinics. The numbers simply do not add up. There has not been anything close to a corresponding decrease in abortions. There is a very good reason for that, one that is daunting to contemplate.


Many hospitals are now performing abortions. This new development, attested to by several physicians in personal communication, will make the fight so much more difficult. Currently, pro-life activists keep watch on clinics and record every instance when an ambulance is called in for a botched abortion. As hospitals take up the slack for closed clinics, there will be no such capability for monitoring centers, as patients are already in-house. Worse still non-physicians will now perform aspiration abortions in California, which accounts for approximately 29% of all abortions in the U.S.

The simple truth is that the opponent has adjusted to our tactics. The butchers such as Gosnell needed to be put away for their crimes. Now the challenge will be how to monitor the hospitals as they make a fundamental philosophical shift by embracing abortion in the era of Obamacare. One approach will be to step up the education of women regarding the dangers of abortion, and their betrayal by cynical governors such as California’s Jerry Brown and New York’s Andrew Cuomo.

Forty years ago the argument in favor of legalizing abortion was that women would have real physicians performing safe, regulated medical procedures. How many women are aware that many abortionists are not even trained in Ob/Gyn? Now, the abortionists won’t even be physicians at all. Somehow the assurance that a qualified physician is mere feet away should an artery be nicked or a uterus punctured doesn’t sound like the fulfillment of the 1973 promises.

One thing is for certain. This week Jerry Brown opened a new front in the war, and with new weapons and tactics. We must meet him and defeat this new approach with smart and innovative approaches of our own. In this, we must recognize that the climb just became steeper for the pro-life movement. With love and with prayer, with great intellect and patient persistence, we will consign this ugly episode in the life of our nation to the dustbin of history.

Dr. Gerard Nadal is Science and Health Education Policy Advisor for the Bioethics Defense Fund. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy from Saint John's University, New York City. After his post-baccalaureate sciences at Columbia University, New York City,  Dr. Nadal returned to Saint John's University where he received his Master of Science in Cellular and Molecular Biology, Master of Philosophy in Biology, and Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology. Also a member of University Faculty For Life and the Catholic Writers Guild, Dr. Nadal is a columnist for Headline BistroDr. Nadal also serves on several advisory boards, including the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, Good Counsel Homes, and the Children First Foundation. A Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and unapologetic Roman Catholic loyal to the Magisterium, Dr. Nadal and his wife home school their three children. He blogs at Coming Home.