By Anthony S. Volpe
Special to the Legal
The unfortunate and disturbing revelations about the “medical” clinic in West Philadelphia has awakened all sorts of social and political monsters. The issue became so hot that politicians and officials felt the need to express outrage and even fire people. These actions may present the appearance of being active and in control. In reality, they mean nothing and are intended to appease the various political factions.
Pro-life advocates can seize on this horror to argue that it reflects moral decay and the sin of murder. A passionate argument for sure, but wide of the mark. What happened is that “medical” clinic was engaged in a sin, but it was the sin of greed. Had the standard of care been met, it is likely that there never would have been the horrors. These tragic events were not about providing abortion services, but were about the money that could be made by running a factory like operation with unskilled labor.
Pro-choice advocates can seize on this horror to argue that its reflects the consequence of governmental interference in a woman’s right to choose. A passionate argument for sure, but wide of the mark. The victims of this “medical” clinic had the opportunity to choose, and they chose to have the abortions. So the government is not interfering with the right to choose.
State and local governments seize on the news to express horror and pled ignorance or the lack of funds. Neither is exculpatory. This governmental failure to act has the earmarks of social prejudice, not a prejudice based on race, color or origin.
Rather, it is a prejudice based on economics. Poor people just do not receive the same level of governmental protection when it comes to policing individuals operating with government-granted licenses. People expect that the licensing provisions, whether for doctors, nurses or other individuals in the medical field, mean that the holders are held to a standard of care. Likewise, they expect the local heath and welfare authorities to be vigilant about medical operations within their jurisdictions.
When, if ever, was the last health inspection of that clinic? As the tragedies of the children abused while in the DHS system clearly demonstrated, there needs to be constant oversight when the government is involved at any level, as the tendency to avoid issues by looking away is tremendous. Would either of these activities have been tolerated in wealthier neighborhoods?
As is evidenced by the recent and continuous coverage of a Central Bucks schoolteacher’s blog posting, government and social attention is focused more intensely on events that impact those in higher socio-economic standings. This presents a social snobbery that other people of a lower social standing do not care as much about similar events.
I suspect that all people hope to avoid a situation that finds them having to consider abortion. I also suspect that most find this situation to be confusing and life-altering. As such, there is little to argue for the position that anyone in that circumstance would choose to seek care at a filthy, poorly staffed and poorly run “medical” clinic. Unfortunately, for many in the west Philadelphia area served by the “medical” clinic, it was the only choice.
Reason argues that everyone, including governmental entities, pro-life advocates and pro-choice advocates, should come together to enforce the exiting laws without regard to any political leanings. Pro-life advocates can do this while continuing to push for their legal position, and pro-choice advocates can do this while continuing to defend a woman’s right to choose. Governmental authorities can begin to serve the affected populations by ensuring them that their medical service providers meet at least the minimum standards dictates by the relevant licensure requirements.
Reason does not accept the use of this tragedy as a basis for advancing a political agenda. We have a current state of law on the abortion issue and that law should and needs to be enforced! There can be no argument the victims got what they deserved for acting immorally by seeking an abortion. Likewise, there can be no argument that the “medical” clinic should exist as it is the only service provider the victims could afford. Reason argues that these events should join the parties in urging government to inspect and police such establishments so these horrors are not repeated.
This butchery benefits no one except the greedy people who finance and operate these facilities that prey on society’s poorer member, because they are seen as poor and powerless.
Anthony S. Volpe is a founding partner of Volpe and Koenig. He can be reached at TVolpe@volpe-koenig.com.