The Conversation

Michigan Case Shows Need for More Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers

Ed Morrissey highlights an investigation into an abortion clinic in Michigan that was shut down after police came to investigate a break in. What they found, in addition to a broken window, was a filthy, unsanitary clinic which the Fire Marshall immediately shut down.

Further investigation revealed that Dr. Alexander, who runs the clinic, had a complaint filed against him in 2009 for a botched abortion. That complaint was never fully investigated however because the doctor who reviewed it, Dr. Shade, was a friend and mentor of Dr. Alexander. In fact, Dr. Alexander spent time in prison after being convicted of selling prescription pills in 1990. It was Dr. Shade who helped him regain his license to practice medicine.

There are several similarities between the closing of the Michigan clinic and the shuttering of Dr. Gosnell's clinic in Pennsylvania. In both cases the discovery of deplorable conditions was accidental. Dr. Alexander's clinic was closed after a break in. Dr. Gosnell's after a DEA raid. In both cases, state and local regulators had done little if anything to investigate conditions at the clinics. In both cases complaints by women victimized by the clinics were brushed under the rug by authorities.

Eventually, after the grand jury report was released, the abysmal conditions at the Gosnell clinic led to firings of Department of Health employees and to "18 changes to Health and State department policies" instituted by Gov. Corbett. As NBC affiliate WOOD 8 reports, the Michigan clinic case is also prompting new legislation:

This comes at the same time a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Delaware was shut down after two nurses claimed it was unsanitary and unsafe.

Clearly there is a need for additional supervision of abortion clinics. And yet, the National Abortion Federation, Naral and Planned Parenthood have fought additional regulation for years. These abortion industry groups oppose so-called TRAP laws on a state by state basis. In fact, NAF has a web page up right now using a 2006 Pennsylvania law as an example of overly-strict regulation of clinics. The 2006 PA law was so onerous that Gosnell's filthy, unsanitary clinic was allowed to operate untouched until 2010.

As Michigan State Sen. Steve Bieda points out, the Michigan case is reminiscent of an old boys network, one that in this case protected a run-down abortion clinic. The Gosnell grand jury report indicates that sort of institutional negligence isn't always accidental. Pro-choice politics can create a sizable gap between what the law says and what regulators actually do. It's time for states to put an end to institutional negligence and make sure abortion politics is not superseding proper implementation of public policy.


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