Missouri Official: Abortion Clinics Don’t Report Complications



A statement released last month from the director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has called out abortion clinics in the state for violating a law that requires them to report complications. Randall Williams stated that his department will enforce the law:

Since 1979, Missouri law has required providers of abortion services and those who treat abortion complications to report every complication they diagnose or treat after an abortion to the Department of Health and Senior Services within 45 days.

It has recently come to my attention that this law was not complied with under previous administrations.

This is unacceptable.

As soon as I became aware of this problem, the Department of Health and Senior Services took steps to ensure future compliance with the law and understanding of the importance of these reports.

As a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who practiced for 30 years, I recognize that every procedure including abortion has recognized risks and potential complications.  By the standard of care, these risks should be discussed with the patient prior to the procedure.  And when the law requires complications to be reported, each and every complication should be reported.

The Department of Health and Senior Services will rigorously enforce this law in the future.

It is good that Missouri officials are making a move to enforce the law, but this seems to be the exception rather than the norm. As Dr. Lenora Berning has pointed out:

Abortion is one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in the United States, yet it is the least regulated. It is the only elective surgical procedure that I know of in which the doctor performing the procedure is not responsible for follow-up care, nor does he or she take an active role in dealing with the complications. Not only this, but the very nature of abortion clinics, which practice in isolation from the rest of the medical community, keeps the abortion provider free from accountability for these complications.

Those who support abortion on demand will claim that the reported complication rate for abortions is low. They may be right. Not necessarily because there are few complications, but because the complications are underreported. They are underreported because there is no accurate process in place today to quantify the harmful repercussions of abortion. The abortion industry has successfully kept abortion and abortionists free from the type of review, regulation, and accountability that is an integral part of the rest of the medical profession.

In her statement, Berning went on to cite cases that she had treated involving women who had been injured or killed as a result of mistakes by abortionists. She noted:

Had this quality of care been provided by any other medical provider — family physician, obstetrician, or emergency physician — it would be considered grossly negligent. By an abortion provider, it does not even cause a stir. In fact it goes unnoted and unreported. …

There is no other practice of medicine where people can suffer and die from complications of your intervention without your being in some way professionally accountable, involved in their care, and at the very least, made aware of it — except abortion.

Indeed, many states do not even require abortionists to report complications or injuries from  abortion at all:

The U.S. abortion data and reporting system, unlike many other countries, relies completely on voluntary reporting. No federal law requires the reporting of abortion numbers, complications or deaths. (Denmark, in contrast, requires mandatory reporting by providers of all induced abortions.)

In fact, only two national organizations collect abortion data in the United States: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal government agency, and the private abortion advocacy group, the Alan Guttmacher Institute. Reporting of abortion data to both is completely voluntary and not all states participate.

Even the most basic statistics about abortion — for example, the annual number in the United States provided by the CDC — is based entirely on estimates, and is therefore vulnerable to human error. How reliable can the annual number of abortions be if California, which used to report approximately one-quarter of all abortions across the nation annually, hasn’t reported its data to the CDC for several years?

It’s impossible to say how safe abortion is in the United States when only 26 states require providers to report injuries and complications from abortion.

If abortion advocates were really concerned about the health and safety of women, one would think that they would be fighting to stamp out abuses and improve the standard of care in abortion clinics. Instead, abortion advocates and their allies claim abortion is “safe” while routinely dismissing and attacking evidence of the physical and psychological harm of abortion.

For example, Nancy Russo, a spokesperson for the American Psychological Association, admitted that a study linking abortion to increased rates of mental health problems among women (a study conducted by a pro-choice researcher, no less) would have no effect on the APA’s position on abortion because “to pro-choice advocates, mental health effects are not relevant to the legal context of arguments to restrict access to abortion.”

Further, abortion advocates have repeatedly fought efforts to regulate clinics or implement other common-sense measures  — such as screening for coercion and pre-existing risk factors for post-abortion psychological problems — that would protect the rights, health and lives of women facing abortion.

Learn More:
Why “Accidental Death is the Default Setting for Coroners” When Abortion Is Involved
Business As Usual: Florida Abortion Businesses Still Open Despite Problems
The Cover-Up: Why US Abortion Mortality Statistics Are Meaningless
Congressional Hearing on Abortion’s Link to Suicide and Mental Illness Needed
Exception or Rule? Gosnell’s “House of Horrors” Not So Rare
Abortionists Are Not Held Accountable for Mistakes

Resources to Share
Special Report on Invisible Abortion Deaths
Special Report on Coercion Inside the Abortion Industry
Forced Abortion in America: A Special Report

Protecting the Rights of Women
Protection from Coerced and Unsafe Abortions Act

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