The following is an op-ed by CCI Executive Director Robert Gilligan. It was published today in the Rockford Register Star.
Every Jan. 22, millions of people march to call attention to the devastating impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Because of this ruling millions of innocent infants have not been born.
Discussing abortion can bring sharp disagreement, but whether one identifies as “pro-life” or “pro-choice” there is an area in which all should agree.
A report recently released from Illinois Right to Life provides a ray of hope for Democrats and Republicans to come together on this topic. One would think after reading this report lawmakers would enact a law that would require every abortion facility to be inspected at least once a year.
Among the more startling revelations in the report is that 54 percent of abortion facilities are not licensed by the state of Illinois – they have never received a health and safety inspection. The state Department of Public Health has no authority over unlicensed abortion facilities even if they perform surgical abortions. The remaining 46 percent of facilities that are licensed by the state of Illinois went 9-13 years without an inspection between 2000-2014.
It is hard to imagine how lawmakers can turn a blind eye to inspecting abortion facilities every year when lawmakers have recognized the need to require regular inspections of tanning salons, restaurants, nursing homes and other places where one’s health and safety are at risk. Even barber shops and cosmetologists require registration with the state.
Regulations under the Tanning Permit Act require a tanning facility to be inspected at least once a year and the rules are quite specific. They specify that sunlamps shall incorporate a timing device with multiple settings and that protective eyewear is required. Interesting, unlike the parental notification of abortion law where there are exceptions and a parent may consent to their child’s abortion, this is not the case when it comes to tanning salons. The law clearly states that a person under age 18 may not be allowed to use a tanning salon even if the minor has the permission of a parent.
How can the state justify regularly inspecting a tanning salon and not an abortion facility? Without oversight, what assurance is there that instruments are properly sterilized? Is medical waste being disposed of properly, and more importantly, what happens to the human remains after an abortion? If something goes wrong, what alternative does a woman have?
That is the question many asked surrounding the death of 24-year old Tonya Reaves, who died after a botched second trimester abortion in July 2012. Reaves had an abortion at an unlicensed abortion facility owned by Planned Parenthood in Chicago and died 12 hours later as a result of what happened at that facility.
In 2011, the nation was shocked to learn about the horrors occurring in the abortion facility operated by Kermit Gosnell. That facility had not been inspected since 1993. Gosnell is now serving a term of life without parole after he was convicted of three counts of murder that occurred at the abortion facility he owned in Philadelphia. Media reports stated that furniture and blankets were stained with blood, freely roaming cats deposited their feces wherever they pleased, and that non-sterilized equipment was used and reused on patients.
In Illinois we know that tanning salons are safe, but without proper state oversight and inspection we do not know what is happening in abortion facilities. Those who are pro-choice should support legislation requiring abortion facilities to be inspected annually. Those who are pro-life recognize that abortion is the taking of an innocent unborn child, and protecting the life of all mothers is one-step towards protecting the unborn as well.