Abortion clinic – now there is an oxymoron, if ever there was one. A clinic is a place that heals, but these establishments offer only one prescription to a woman with a crisis pregnancy: death for her young one and, for the mother, a painful memory that will last a lifetime. More often than not, she is rushed into the procedure by a “counselor” whose only qualification is the ability to get her undressed and into the back room as fast as possible – a counselor whose only objective is to close the sale.

Often, these counselors have had abortions themselves, and are trying to work through their own pain by “helping” others through this unpleasant and often unsafe experience in establishments that operate with the speed of an assembly line. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1983 reported, “Complications following abortions performed in free-standing clinics is one of the most frequent gynecologic emergencies … encountered.”

You would think that conditions would have improved in these establishments that now dot our landscape, but no. Pressure from feminist’s groups has resulted in virtually no reporting requirements and no oversight. As a result, these abortion mills have been left to police themselves.

Mark Crutcher, of Life Dynamics, verified 23 deaths from induced abortion in 1992-93 that were reported to state agencies. However, only two of these deaths were listed by the Centers for Disease Control, which has become highly politicized in the area of abortion. Bear in mind that most deaths resulting from induced abortion eventually are reported as something else: pelvic abscess, septicemia and hepatitis (from hemorrhage and blood transfusion). Crutcher, in his book, “Lime 5,” documented case histories of several hundred women badly injured or killed by abortionists. Only a fraction were reported.

Recently, these establishments have received some 100 threatening letters claiming to contain anthrax. However, at least two have been received by pregnancy help centers, which offer a variety of options to pregnant women who often are alone and out of funds.

The letters, to centers in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, like the others, were computer generated and stated simply, “You have just been exposed to Anthrax. You have chosen to kill babies, therefore we have chosen to kill you.”

From these cases of mistaken identity, it is obvious that whoever sent the letters was not that familiar with the pro-life movement. While the Lansdale facility is identified simply as the North Penn Pregnancy Counseling Center, the one in North Carolina calls itself the AAA Crisis Pregnancy Center, which is the traditional name for help centers manned by pro-life groups.

Cindy Richey, director of the Fayetteville center said, “The really sad thing about all this is, because we are non-profit, we were put at the bottom of the list by the agencies doing the investigation. We were shut down for over a week, while the abortion mill in this town was back in business the next morning.”

Abortion clinics are moneymaking establishments. While some are officially listed as non-profit, the doctors doing the abortions are doing them for a big fee. They have a trade association, feminists groups and Planned Parenthood to hustle for them – the latter at taxpayers’ expense.

They have the money to play the role of victim and they do that quite well. Frankly the folks who volunteer their time to save women the agony and pain of the abortion experience are tired of hearing it. For those on the front lines of the peaceful pro-life movement, death threats are a way of life. Jeff White, who runs Survivors, a pro-life youth organization, received his first letter containing white powder more than two years ago. “When I go for a while without receiving some kind of threat,” said White, “I begin to question whether or not I’m being effective.”

Mark Crutcher often is concerned for his family. “Whenever I would go out of town, my wife received threatening phone calls so we knew we were watched constantly. Once we adopted a baby, we were more vigilant. After bomb threats, my wife goes to a hotel for safety. However, bomb threats only seem to count if you are an abortionist.”

Are the people who run and support abortion mills above threatening themselves in order to get a little attention? No. In 1987, pro-abortion activist Frank Mediola was arrested in Los Angeles for calling in phony bomb threats because he wanted to have “you people in the media come down hard on people who are harassing the clinics.”

For far too long there has been a curious double standard. Too often, it’s print first, investigate and ask questions later … or never.

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