GOP-commissioned report: Abortion is incredibly safe, already highly regulated

A GOP "fishing expedition" on abortion providers in the U.S. confirms what we already knew: abortion is very safe

Published August 21, 2013 3:57PM (EDT)

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.         (Facebook/TrentFranks)
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. (Facebook/TrentFranks)

In May, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee requested thousands of pages of documentation on how all 50 states monitor and regulation abortion providers.

But while politicians like Trent Franks launched the inquiry expecting to uncover the "dangers" of abortion in the United States, the evidence, provided by state attorney generals and health departments, proved (yet again) exactly the opposite: Abortion is an incredibly safe medical procedure, and providers are already highly regulated.

A roundup of some of the results of the investigation, as reported by reproductive rights website RH Reality Check:

Abortion facilities are regularly inspected:

Most states said that they conduct regular inspections of abortion clinics, or of hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, or other types of facilities where abortions can be carried out. And most states said they were aware of very few -- if any -- incidents of patients being harmed as a result of an abortion.

For instance, Oklahoma inspects its three abortion clinics annually, and has not imposed disciplinary proceedings on a facility in any of the years under examination -- 2008 to 2013. California performs thousands of inspections of medical facilities every year, including places where abortions may be performed.

Abortion services are already actively and aggressively monitored:

That said, with more than half of states responding, these documents suggest that most states actively and aggressively monitor abortion services. Mounds of paperwork await those who want to provide abortions. Application processes are not only lengthy and cumbersome, but also costly. Providers are then subject to onerous regulations and regular inspections, and when problems are identified providers face penalties and other sanctions, including the loss of the facility’s license.

State records belie the claims of fetuses “born alive”:

On the issue of infants being “born alive” after a botched abortion, Pennsylvania was the only state that reported such conduct. That was in the case of Kermit Gosnell, who has been convicted of murder. ... The responses provided by all other states support that view. No other state that has provided its answers to RH Reality Check found any example of so-called born-alive infants, and many provided copies of their laws that make it a crime to deny medical care to a newborn. Many states said they would treat the killing of a fetus “born alive” as homicide.

You can (and should) read the rest here.

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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