Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yay for Bill

Some pro-life folks were heckling Bill Clinton the other day at a speech in Ohio.

Here is his response:

"We disagree with you. You want to criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree. I reduced abortion. Tell the truth! Tell the truth! If you were really pro-life, if you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor and every mother, as an accessory to murder, in prison, and you won't say you wanna do that, because you know that you wouldn't have a lick of political support. Now, the issue is, you can't name me anybody presently in politics that did more to introduce policies that reduce the number of real abortions, instead of the hot air putting out to tear people up and make votes by dividing America. This is not your rally."

Rock on, Bubba. Rock on.

Hat tip to Our Bodies, Our Blog


Joel Monka said...

It doesn't rock for me- it's just another example of an absolutist painting with too broad a brush and demonizing opposition. There are a great many pro-lifers who know that it is one of many social evils that are not amenable to government solutions, and work on winning hearts and minds instead. Ideally, we seek a society in which women whose lives are not in danger would feel abortion unthinkable- not for fear of the law, but because of the inherit dignity and worth of the human life they are carrying.

Nor can Bill really claim that it was any of his policies that caused any reduction in abortions. I have read that the real cause is that lawsuits have made the OB-GYN practice in general so difficult that there are many areas of the country where access to any kind of OB-GYN services are unavailable, much less being able to find a doctor willing to perform an abortion.

Chalicechick said...

First of all, it was a response to specific pro-life people who were heckling him while he was trying to make a speech.

(( I have read that the real cause is that lawsuits have made the OB-GYN practice in general so difficult that there are many areas of the country where access to any kind of OB-GYN services are unavailable, much less being able to find a doctor willing to perform an abortion.))

I have trouble believing that as, as far as I know there are fewer doctors everywhere and other medical procedures did not take a sharp drop at the same time the Clinton administration started promoting preventative contraception, education, and public assistance.

who remembers when health insurance didn't cover contraception. Almost all health insurance covers it now.

Joel Monka said...

Ah- I didn't get that it was a response to a specific group. Evidently OB has it worse than other specialties- here are two articles:
Legal issues impacting women's access to care and HATCH: MEDICAL LIABILITY IS A PROBLEM WE CAN FIX

Anonymous said...

What cuts down abortions is prosperity.

Comrade Kevin said...

As others said on this thread, it sounds good, but the reality is far more complex than he is painting it.

PG said...


You seem a bit confused about how abortions are carried out in America.

Yes, there are particular malpractice issues faced by ob-gyns, but they have nothing to do with abortion -- it's because they're delivering babies, which is a particularly hazardous thing to do when you're facing a jury. Verdicts for malpractice in births are extremely high because it's such a sad story: screw up the timing, and you have a baby with major physical and mental birth defects. Just not doing a C-section as soon as the baby went into oxygen distress is enough to damage the baby and have a sympathetic jury award millions of dollars to the parents in punitive damages. Insurance companies kept raising the cost of ob-gyns' malpractice coverage, and ob-gyns don't have a lot of procedures they can perform that will rake in money (medical billing is based on the procedures you do, not on the time you spend with the patient).

Texas was having a huge problem with this, to the point that some counties in South Texas did not have ob-gyns. That's much less of a problem now that Texas by law does not permit punitive damages over $250k, which was a constitutional amendment that physicians lobbied like crazy for.

(Said physicians didn't pick up on the fact that their rates had spiked up right after the stock market woes of late 2000 while there was no sudden increase in actual payouts from the insurers. Basically insurance companies had been investing the doctors' payments, and had to raise rates suddenly when the investments tanked.)

Nearly all abortions are carried out in freestanding reproductive health clinics, not hospitals, and such facilities generally carry their own insurance. There are exponentially fewer high-verdict and high-settlement malpractice cases associated with abortion. Frankly, the second most sympathetic story a plaintiff can put up (besides the death of the woman who sought the abortion, which would result in the plaintiff's being someone other than the patient) is that the physician committed some malpractice that resulted in her losing her fertility. Since many people have a negative attitude toward women who get abortions, it's almost guaranteed that at least one jury member will think "Boo hoo, you can't have kids -- you just killed one of them."

So yeah, long story short, Clinton has a point and your ob-gyn malpractice theory doesn't stand up.