Statement to the St. Joseph County Council

IMG_8321-e1285773229972-531x251 The “Patient Safety Ordinance” (Bill 69-14) would have, among other things, required abortionists in our community to have hospital admitting privileges, either directly or indirectly, like other doctors working in outpatient surgery centers. It went down in defeat early Wednesday morning after a lengthy period of public testimony. I was unable to attend the debate, but I prepared a statement anyway. Parts of it were read to the Council on my behalf; here’s the full statement for the record.


There was a letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal last Friday that revealed something I didn’t know about Fr. Richard John Neuhaus – the archconservative intellectual and author. Apparently, in his younger days, Neuhaus “proudly marched in Washington alongside his friend and fellow Democrat, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.” and “was also a Vietnam War protester.” The letter-writer went on to recall that in his speeches, Neuhaus would often refer back to his more liberal days, and would add, “I remain a Democrat in all but my voting practices.”

That describes me to a “T,” but with a significant exception: Whereas Neuhaus no doubt voted Republican later in life, I have chosen to cast blank ballots in every major national election for years. Why? In part because of the very issue before us this evening: I just can’t bring myself to vote for Republicans, but since the Democrats are so committed to abortion on demand, I can’t vote for them either.

And make no mistake: Bill 69-14 is about abortion. As April Lidinsky pointed out in her South Bend Tribune letter on Saturday, St. Joe County Right to Life wouldn’t be pushing this bill unless it was about abortion. However, the flipside is also true: Ms. Lidinsky and others who oppose this ordinance do so only because of how it could impinge on women’s access to abortion.

So, here’s full disclosure: I’m a devout Catholic, and hence passionately pro-life. Also, I am employed by Bethel College – a pro-life institution. Clearly, I am utterly opposed to the horror of abortion, and it’s no surprise that I’d support this ordinance since it would make abortion more difficult – even impossible – to obtain in my community. Would that we could make it impossible to obtain everywhere!

But I’m also a Registered Nurse, and on that basis alone, I support this bill. As a nurse, I am appalled that a clinic performing surgical abortions – an invasive procedure that puts women at risk for infection, perforation, and severe hemorrhaging among other complications – would be held to a lower standard than other freestanding surgery centers. This is especially egregious given the fact that all the patrons of abortion clinics are women – and often women already in distress and/or desperate financial straits.

It’s unthinkable that, under other circumstances, such a failure to protect vulnerable women would be ignored by the American Left. Instead, we’d expect to see Democrats flying to the aid of these women, demanding parity with other clinics in terms of medical regulation and oversight.

This ought to be a non-partisan issue, but it’s not. Nonetheless, I implore you, regardless of your party affiliation, to adopt this ordinance. If you can’t do it because you’re against abortion, do it because it promotes patient safety – that is, women’s safety. Either way, it’s the right thing to do.
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