As the stories broke about the Kermit Gosnell abortion horror, one thing we learned was that the state of Pennsylvania had not inspected his abortion facility for seventeen years. Considering this was a place that purported to be a “clinic” and claimed it dealt with “women’s health” and performed surgical procedures that generally required some form of anesthesia that seems to be an outrageous amount of time with no state inspection.
So, how long do you think it’s been since any of the four remaining Wisconsin abortion facilities have had an inspection? Surely it can’t be as long as 17 years, can it? The answer to that question is, who knows how long it has been? Apparently, there are no records available that clearly tell us when any of these abortion facilities was last inspected. As ridiculous as that may sound, it’s the truth. And the bottom line is we have no idea what really goes on in those abortion places.
We’ve made some real and substantial progress on incrementally controlling and regulating abortion in the Badger State over the last 3 years with bills requiring abortionists to ascertain as best they can that the woman is not being coerced, outlawing web-cam abortions, and most recently requiring that a woman seeking an abortion have an ultrasound and that abortionists must have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortions are being conducted.
But one area we have not addressed is the inspection of abortion facilities. Surely it should be carefully considered and soon, while the Gosnell atrocity is fresh on everyone’s mind. We could have a Gosnell situation brewing right in our own state and not know. That’s not a risk we should take.
Even without this inspection requirement, though, if you add to all of the regulations and restrictions we already have, that Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is no longer receiving $1 million a year of tax payer money for its nefarious work, it becomes quite apparent that we are likely going to see fewer abortions in the next several years. And that’s definitely a good thing. Every baby saved, every woman spared the trauma of an abortion is incredibly significant.
However, as good and helpful and necessary as incremental measures are—as important as regular inspections of abortion facilities is–there’s no real end game with this approach. By end game, I’m talking about the full recognition of the personhood of the unborn. Isn’t that what being pro-life really is—recognizing that from the moment of conception, these tiny lives are persons and endowing them with certain God-given rights such as those enumerated in the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – as well as constitutional protections?
Fortunately we have some forward thinking and end-game thinking legislators in Wisconsin right now. Rep. Andre Jacques, a Republican from De Pere. has authored Wisconsin’s personhood amendment. This proposed legislation corrects a problem with Wisconsin’s constitution which, when written, used the word “born” in relationship to who qualifies to be the beneficiaries of human rights. That means the preborn do not have even the most basic of human rights in Wisconsin, life. The proposed amendment removes the word “born” and leaves just the word “people,” a term that is later in the amendment clearly declared to mean every human being at any stage of development.
This personhood amendment is designed to end abortion in Wisconsin. That’s the end game, awaiting the day when Roe v. Wade is overturned and the issue reverts to the individual states. The amendment is not intended to, nor is it worded in such a way, as to present a challenge to Roe v. Wade. As long as Roe v. Wade is the law of the land the protections of the amendment cannot be fully realized; however, clearly defining personhood prior to the day Roe v. Wade is overturned is certainly prudent, and legal experts tell us that there is no risk to any existing anti-abortion law that Wisconsin currently has on the books, including the pre-Roe law that criminalizes abortion.
The debate that so often happens is that it is either an incremental approach or a personhood amendment approach that the pro-life community must follow. We don’t see it from this “either or” perspective; we see it as “both and.” Until Roe v. Wade is overturned, in Wisconsin we must continue to do everything we can to pass laws that restrict and regulate abortion; however, we must at the same time work to define and recognize the personhood of every Wisconsin citizen, including our preborn.
So while the personhood amendment works its way through the legislature on first consideration this session, we also believe it is necessary to call for the inspection of the remaining abortion facilities in the Badger State. By keeping the pressure on from all fronts, we can truly advance a culture of life in our great state.