Pro Life Group Uncovers Health Problems at Clinics

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Texas abortion clinics are plagued with health and administrative violations and have tons of gross medical waste, including fetal remains, in open trash bins outside their doors, according to the results of a three-month undercover study by Christian pro-life group Operation Rescue.

The group filed complaints with the Texas Medical Board against 12 "abortionists" they dub the "Dirty Dozen," detailing alleged findings such as "illegal dumping of biohazard/infectious medical waste"; illegal dumping of medical records; unsanitary conditions (including "bloody smears" on the toilet in a McAllen clinic); and doctors and clinic staff who "showed resentment toward the law and a complete disrespect for women and their right to know the risks of abortion." (Note: While we're interested in the allegations, we're less compelled by the loaded, borderline-paranoid language -- à la "abortion promoters" -- that fanatics are wont to employ, often to their detriment.)

The group has also posted excerpts of phone conversations between undercover members and clinic staff, including one call where a receptionist at an El Paso clinic steers a caller posing as a 17-year-old to a clinic in New Mexico, so the "minor" wouldn't have to inform her parents, per Texas law.

In another, a caller complains of not understanding a doctor's prerecorded informed-consent statements in a conference call because of his thick accent. The receptionist fielding that complaint suggests the caller listen to another recording later that day (presumably the same recording) and tells the caller that "You've already complied [with state law] so I mean, basically, that's all you need."

The clinics were chosen at random, according to the study, but several were part of a chain called Whole Women's Health. Those were among the worst violators, according to Operation Rescue.

Texas Medical Board Spokeswoman Leigh Hopper told us in an e-mail that "We review every complaint we receive for violations of the standard of care and other concerns. State law prohibits us from confirming or denying the presence of an investigation, but any disciplinary action will be public information. I always encourage consumers to use our website to see if a doctor has a history of disciplinary actions."

We also asked Hopper about the scenarios in the calls Operation Rescue posted online. In the case of the caller who was directed to the New Mexico clinic, we asked if a doctor in Houston should also tell a patient about New Mexico's informed-consent laws -- or perhaps outline the laws in the much closer state of Louisiana.

"The scenario you describe does not sound like it would activate Texas parental consent laws, which kick in 48 hours ahead of a scheduled abortion. In these scenarios, the receptionist or doctor is providing information about what the laws require in different states, and that's legal."

Per the hard-to-understand conference call, Hopper told us, "Doctors are required to provide adequate informed consent. This scenario sounds like it does not meet the standard."

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14 comments
Amadi
Amadi

@Lies -- If there were any babies being murdered anywhere, you'd have a point. Embryos and fetuses, however, are not babies, any more than acorns are trees, eggs are birds or seeds are tomatoes.

Lies
Lies

Imagine that acorn with a a 4 inch sprout emerging. Imagine that egg with a tiny chick growing inside. Now we have real comparisons.

Lies
Lies

Is that the excuse that works for you? Does that help you sleep at night?

Katie
Katie

Hate for this to turn into just another old "how do you sleep at night" thread - there are plenty of those already on the internet and you're not going to change any minds, here (and I'm sure I'm not either) - but @Lies, I sleep more soundly than you know.

You believe that the 1/4" sized fetus making it to term is more important than the woman on medicaid whose birth control failed and would be having her 5th child - more important than the drug addicted woman trying to turn her life around - more important than the woman calling us from a shelter on a borrowed phone because her husband kicked her out when he found out she was pregnant - more important than the 12 year old who was raped by her biological father...And if you think i'm citing extreme cases, let me just tell you that all of these have happened within the past month...

And I believe that these women, and every single woman that we see - is more important than what's developing inside of her. If you're telling me that I shouldn't be able to sleep for helping these women overcome these obstacles, and that I should instead turn my back and let them "deal with the consequences," then no, I can't do that. If that's what you do, then I would in turn ask you the same question.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Don't even bother responding to trolls here. They aren't interested in a serious discussion. Abortion, politics, whatever, they come here from other websites to stir shit up and piss people off.http://lifehacker.com/#!554760...

Lies
Lies

There is one proven method of birth control that is 100% effective. Abstinence. Being careless and promiscuous is not an excuse to have an abortion. Personal responsibility, not excuses.

Lies
Lies

C'mon Katie, you can do better than this. 1)Why did she have 5 kids already? Birth control failed? Yeah, right. Want to buy a bridge? 2) A human life is more important than a woman trying to "turn her life around". What, a baby would get in her way? She should've thought about that when she was lying down having unprotected sex. 3)getting kicked out of the house is now a legitimate excuse to terminate a pregnancy? Uhh, no. Of course the 12 year old is a totall different circumstance. She had no control of the situation. What we have here is personal responsibilities and people who are making excuses to take the easy way out. They need to own up to their actions, not make excuses for ending a life.

Katie
Katie

Yikes - Okay, a couple of things about this article that I'd like to draw some attention to. I've been following this story, and I think it needs to be said that the "pro-life group" that "uncovered health problems at clinics" were actually a couple of 19 year old girls from the group Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust in california. Second, the pro-life group that sent them isn't just a christian pro-life group - they're Operation Rescue. One of the most notorious, radical, anti-abortion groups in the nation - some of whose employees have served entire prison sentences for conspiring to bomb abortion clinics, are linked to the murder of abortion Doctors and so on. Third, abortion clinics don't exist in some wild, wild west un-licensed, un-inspected alternate world. They undergo the same rigorous and random inspections by both the state and national organizations that i'm sure most every health clinic does.

It's almost embarassing that there are journalists that are actually taking these "investigations" seriously. Wait for the TX medical board's public statement - not felons and 19 year olds whose only goal in life is to shut these places down.

Craig Malisow
Craig Malisow

Hi Katie,

Thanks for commenting. Certainly a person's criminal history should be weighed in judging their credibility, but I'm not sure if the only kind of person who can legitimately allege a violation of the law is a non-radical person with no agenda and no criminal record. Is Operation Rescue fanatical? It appears that way, as I pointed out. But there's a difference between weilding a sign that says "Abortion is Murder" and posting recordings and photos to bolster your claims. (By way of example, some of the most damning videos of animal cruelty in chicken processing plants/slaughterhouses/etc. come from fanatic, agenda-driven vegans who might possibly place a higher value on an animal's life than a human being's. That doesn't make the evidence they collect any abhorrent. If someone captures processing plant workers beating a defenseless animal to death, I'm not sure if the camera operator's voting record is relevant.)

Also, it's comforting to think that any service industry regulated by state or federal government is rigorously inspected and that things don't fall between the cracks. Comforting and delusional. Not sure if you're from Houston, but recently four children just burned to death because a 22-year-old day care operator who lied on her license application was off shopping at Target while something was cooking on the stove. And you might also want to take a look at state juvenile facilities where kids have been systematically abused. These, too, were subject to state inspections and oversight.

As for the belief that journalists should immediately dismiss serious allegations from a select list of organizations and instead rely solely on public statements from government officials....the mind reels. Maybe I'm biased, but I don't think it's the role of a media outlet to be all-press-release-all-the-time. That would be akin to government-run media, which is how they roll in totalitarian regimes. It's a kick-ass way to suppress questions, criticism, and truth-seeking.

All that said, we always appreciate reader comments, so keep 'em coming!

Thanks again,Craig

Katie
Katie

Hi Craig,Thanks for the reply. Apologies if my comment seemed a bit critical. My criticism comes from a place of experience. I work in the field of reproductive health and reproductive rights. Based on actions carried out by both this group and groups like it, I don't hesitate to categorize them as terrorist organizations. If they haven't threatened, stalked or murdered friends of mine, themselves, then they have encouraged the actions via their words and websites, which sometimes do everything but post our home address.

Because of this experience, I *do* have a problem with journalists giving them the benefit of the doubt, just as I would have a problem with a story of any other nature taking investigational reports from a terrorist organization under their wing. I think it's obvious that violent, belligerent people like this should obviously not be trusted to do "investigations" when their primary goal is to shut the place down - much less 19 year olds. How can you trust that they haven't doctored photos? How can you trust that they didn't plant evidence? How can you trust that they didn't steal patient information when they were in the building? I'm not saying that they absolutely did any of the above, but if you're willing to make a gasoline bomb, what other measures might one take?

I would normally say kudos to you for paying attention to an "underdog's" investigational report. But in this case, I am personally offended that *anybody* can look past the outright violent and harassing tactics of this terrorist organization and write an article that's on board with their report before waiting for a legitimate and legal investigation of these facilities. As violence continues against my community, it's sensationalized articles like these that we consider contribution to the negative, shaming stigma surrounding abortion and women's health. Please at least consider whose reports you use to further stigmatize our work in the future, as this one is simply insulting.

Lies
Lies

Women (and men) who murder babies because they would be inconvenienced or because they are promiscuous should be shamed.

Reproductive rights? What exactly does this mean? You have some divine right to take lives? Uhhh, no you don't. You can hide behind these not so clever buzz phrases but everyone knows what happens when you try to put lipstick on a pig.

Craig Malisow
Craig Malisow

Hey Katie -- no apologies necessary! If you get a chance, e-mail me at craig.malisow@houstonpress.com.

Thanks,Craig

ClinicEscort
ClinicEscort

It's like some cracked-out corollary of Godwin's Law. Let us call it Malisow's Law: as a conversation about the failings of a particular news story goes on, the probability that someone will call detractors fascist censors approaches one. Bonus points if the straw-man-beater-upper is the author of the flawed piece in question.

I'm not really sure how it's the stuff of totalitarianism to ask for some *context* in a news story on incendiary accusations from people with a radically regressive agenda and a history of saying and doing anything--anything at all--that will get an abortion clinic shut down. You could start, for example, with the information that their "senior policy advisor" is a convicted felon who served time for her role in a clinic bombing plot. Or with the fact that Operation Rescue's jam used to be en-masse clinic blockades, and that making these illegal only slowed these tactics but did not stop them. Or with the fact that they're telephoning clinics all over eastern Pennsylvania trying to get staff to give up home addresses for abortion providers, as reported this month by Philly Weekly. I'm sure I'd be the mouthpiece of a totalitarian regime if I suggested that they probably aren't seeking this information for purposes of muffin basket delivery...?

If absolutely nothing else, how about passing on just a few words to clue readers in that these people are in the business of offering substantial cash payoffs to anyone who offers evidence (or "evidence") of illegal activity at abortion clinics, and that as such, any accusations that come through them need to be viewed as tainted *at best*. http://www.operationrescue.org...

ribalding
ribalding

Do you think it would help if someone 'splained to the Womb Bigots how Planned Parenthood DECREASES the number of abortions?

Or am I being naive again?

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