Well, here's an interesting news story that you might want some behind the scenes info on... Dr. Steve Brigham of American Women's Services, and several other names that sound a lot like other more reputable clinics, has just lost his doctor in Erie PA. He himself has surrendered his license in PA, lost it in NY, and for some reason, still has it in NJ. He lost one doc in the spring because, it turned out he didnt HAVE a license. Now his remaining doc quit or was fired depending on who you talk to. He had his DEA certificate suspended or revoked for prescribing some narcotic for a family member. Allegations are flying back and forth about standards and quality, which with these guys is splitting hairs, since they don't seem to abide by any of the current standards of quality.
Now, some folks have said that pro choice activists or abortion clinics have stood by and let these folks practice. NO NO NO! In town after town, I assure you the providers we know have encouraged patients who have had terrible treatment to call the state health dept and report the clinic. Health depts have been called directly. Hospitals and physicians have been given the heads up and know first hand some of the problems. Reporters are fully informed. But, these "bad apples" are still going strong.
What's up?? Well, first of all there are medical standards that are set out for abortion practice. There may be a variation about some good practices, but there are several certifications a clinic could have. The National Abortion Federation enforces its standards with inspections. Many surgi centers have Triple A certification. Most insurance companies have some kind of quality assurance program. The National Coalition of Abortion Providers doesn't accredit but does encourage and educate about quality services. And, there are basic dept of health standards, lab regulations through CLIA, and all sorts of other regulations. We don't need more regulation, especially the kind that is designed to drive abortion services to close their doors and applies to no one else. And of course, there are state boards in every state to ensure that doctors-- any kind of doctor-- are upholding basic medical ethics and standards.
What then? This won't solve everything, but hey, what about caveat emptor? The solution, as is so often the case, is in our hands as consumers. In the case of abortion services, the stigma and silencing that women endure makes the field wide open to non quality providers. The lack of health care funding, and coverage by Medicaid in most states, makes women ask more about price than about complications or pain management. This is wrong and women are suffering!
Why is it profitable to offer awful services? I can't tell you how many times a day people call and say how much is an abortion and then hang up and call another clinic. Comparison shopping is fine but when one clinic is $150-200 and the others are in the $350-400 range, you gotta wonder. Don't you? These clinics prey upon women who don't feel they can ask their friends, "what's the best place to go?" Just for the record, you can get referrals from your physician, a local Planned Parenthood (which also does site visits at least), or Family Planning agencies. The phone book and the internet are not enough!!! And ask questions. Visit the place if you can. Trust your instincts. Leave if you are not comfortable. Please be careful!