By Betsy Childs
Originally posted at First Things
In the article“Women forced to travel as Deep South closes doors on abortion clinics,”Al Jazeera America draws attention to a trend that is either heartening or ominous depending on your side of the abortion divide:
[F]or Kew and many women like her throughout Alabama and much of the Deep South, following through on the decision to have an abortion is getting harder and harder. Over the past two decades, the number of abortion clinics in many southern states (Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi) has shrunk to single digits, requiring women to travel farther, pay more and receive later-term abortions. Currently, there is one abortion clinic in Mississippi, three in Alabama, and five in Louisiana, though three of those in Louisiana are expected to close within the next six months due to inability to comply with the new regulations.
The laws in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana that are shuttering so many clinics require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Such privileges aren’t easily obtained by doctors who fly or drive across state lines one day a week to perform abortions.
It’s not hard to see how the new requirements are making abortion less accessible. What is puzzling is why clinics run by Planned Parenthood are closing. According to the organization, just 3 percent of its services are abortion related. That’s equivalent to the percentage of McDonald’s sales made up by salads. If the Alabama legislature regulated salads out of existence (stranger things have happened), I would wager that all of the McDonald’s franchises in the state would remain open.
The closing of clinics across the South shows that Planned Parenthood’s intentionally ambiguous 3 percent statistic does not refer to the percentage of revenue earned from abortion procedures (Kevin DeYoung has suggested some plausible hypotheses for what the number might actually mean). Contrary to Planned Parenthood’s PR, it exists for and is sustained by the taking of lives in the womb.