If you are a 12-year-old victim of incest, and you get pregnant, and your abusive older brother takes you to a Planned Parenthood of Western Washington (PPWW) abortion clinic, will PPWW report the crime to the authorities?
If you find yourself in a crisis
pregnancy and go to PPWW to discuss your options, will they let you listen to the baby’s heartbeat, and offer you a free ultrasound of your baby to help you in your decision-making, like many pregnancy resource clinics do?
These are some of questions we recently asked of PPWW’s spokesman Brian Cutler.
In an effort to find common ground, and to discover if there exists any sort of minimum ethical floor below which this organization won’t fall, we proposed a set of challenges to Mr. Cutler, policies that PPWW could adopt now demonstrate to its critics that it isn’t out a) to do as many abortions as possible, or b) to make as much money as possible.
Moreover, as a recipient of an almost $3 million health care contract from DSHS annually, being a health care partner of the state, and beneficiary of millions of dollars in Medicaid reimbursements, PPWW should have a high bar for patient care.
Here are some of our proposals:
1. Provide color fetal development pictures on the PPWW website in the ‘Abortion Information’ section.
2. Offer all abortion clients a view of the ultrasound of their unborn baby, with the baby's major identifiable anatomical parts pointed out, and offer to let them hear their baby's heartbeat, before making any decision about having an abortion, to ensure that these women know exactly ‘what’ is being removed from their womb.
3. Commit to a policy whereby at least 1 parent of a minor planning to have an abortion will be notified beforehand unless the minor attests that doing so will put her in genuine danger.
4. Wait three days between the first appointment and scheduling an abortion. In most states, when you get a mortgage, buy a used car, or even just get a high end vacuum cleaner, you have three days by law to change your mind. Is this because "you can’t be trusted to make a decision"? No, it's recognition that consumers can easily be pressured into doing something they don't really want to do in hindsight. Clearly abortion is a bigger decision than buying a Kirby. The only reason to rush is to make sure the client doesn’t have time to reflect.
5. Require that abortion clients be informed of pregnancy resource clinics and other resources to support them if they choose to continue their pregnancy.
How many of these proposals did Mr. Cutler agree to?
Not a single one.
Mr. Cutler’s response to voluntarily notifying a parent that their minor daughter was possibly the victim of a sexual predator, coercion, let alone about to undergo life-altering surgery was the standard PP spiel about parental notification legislation: “most of our minor patients inform and even include their parents…a minor is not required by law to notify her parents … what if the patient’s father is the one responsible for the pregnancy?”
We pointed out that notifying an incestuous father would be absurd because PPWW is required by law to notify the police in such a case. Mr. Cutler said nothing to this. In fact, Planned Parenthood clinics have come under heavy fire – though oddly enough no criminal charges – for doing abortions on girls known to be victims of incest without notifying authorities, only to return the child to the incestuous situation. Similarly with underage girls who are victims of statutory rape. We asked to see copies of training documents which show that PPWW employees are required to notify police when they encounter girls who are victims of such crimes. Mr. Cutler offered none. We asked how many times in the previous years PPWW had reported such cases to police. Mr. Cutler refused to give any number.
In the end, we offered that PPWW could craft its own policy just as some sort of bare minimum guarantee that ‘all things being equal’, PPWW would notify at least one parent if a minor was seeking an abortion with no good reason why a parent shouldn’t be involved.
Mr. Cutler rejected even this absurdly modest proposal, citing a “difference in values”.
Nothing To Hide?
Regarding the question of providing ultrasounds and foetal dopplers so pregnant clients can see their baby and hear their baby’s heartbeat, the ultimate in medically and scientifically accurate information, Mr. Cutler simply said: “We use UltraSound to determine the gestational age of the fetus. Any patient can view the UltraSound if she wishes. We certainly don't hide anything from our patients.” He didn’t provide any explanation of the rejection of adding text book graphics of foetal development on their website.
Moreover, when challenged on the claim that PPWW “doesn’t hide anything” from its patients, Mr. Cutler refused to answer any more questions, including:
- How do you explain that we have interviewed women who went to PPWW clinics, were pregnant, and were explicitly told that they could not see the ultrasound until after they had agreed to an abortion and paid their money?
- How do you explain that local pregnancy centers report that their clients who have been to PPWW clinics say the same thing?
- How do you explain that
we have interviewed women who had abortions at local PPWW clinics and were never shown fetal development pictures, but were instead told that the abortion simply involved the removal of 'pregnancy tissue'? This includes one woman, who prefers to remain anonymous, who after four abortions later got pregnant with a baby she wanted. Only then was she given (by her OB) pictures of what her unborn baby looked like. She was devastated. Had she been given these pictures in her previous pregnancies, one of which was ended at a local PPWW clinic, she related between tears, she wouldn't have chosen abortion.
- Local pregnancy clinics, such as Life Choices of King County, have doctors who provide free ultrasounds to their patients. These types of clinics report that as many as 96% of abortion-minded women choose to keep their babies afterwards. What percentage does PPWW report?
- Are ultrasound and fetal doppler machines, along with appropriately trained technicians, available in all PP clinics (which would be expensive), or just certain locations? The clinic detail on the website does not indicate the answer to this question.
- Can you provide official training documents for counsellors in which they are instructed to offer pregnant women ultrasounds and to listen to their baby's heartbeat?
Regarding providing encouraging and detailed information on non-abortion options, Mr. Cutler simply said: “All options are open to a woman from the moment she walks through the door at a Planned Parenthood health center,” an essentially meaningless statement. “We have information in brochure form,” he added weakly, “about adoption, carrying a pregnancy to term, where they can take pre-natal classes, and much more,” though he did not say anything about how counselors present this information if at all, or if these brochures are clearly displayed, or even up to date.
He did admit, however, that “we do not refer patients to crisis pregnancy centers.” To justify this policy he referred to studies from pro-abortion sources like “Rep. Henry Waxman of California” claiming that “CPCs disseminate medically misleading information”.
On the question of providing women a three day period prior to scheduling an abortion, Mr. Cutler was completely silent.