Doorways, and why they matter

A bit of thought-provoking reading to take into your weekend: check out this post by Mollie Hemingway in The Federalist. The title of her piece might put you off: “Virginia’s blood-spattered abortion clinics and onerous hallway widths.” Keep reading her essay. It all comes together.

As abortion regulations are enacted around the nation, representatives of the abortion industry raise bitter objections to putting architectural requirements into clinic regs. Why should a woman seeking abortion care how wide the hallways and doorways are inside the abortion facility? Isn’t this an attempt to force facilities to shut down, since remodeling an existing office is almost never cost-effective in the abortion industry?

No. The width of halls and doorways in a health care facility is a matter of patient safety, not provider convenience. Try evacuating an unresponsive patient from a clinic in an emergency situation. Suddenly, those wide doors and halls make sense.

I’ve kept a copy of the grand jury report on Kermit Gosnell, from January 2011. It’s basic reading for anyone, of any persuasion, who’s going to remark on abortion-facility regulations. The night Gosnell’s abortion-and-infanticide practice was finally raided, his sedated patients couldn’t walk on their own. Extricating them was a problem, since halls and doorways weren’t designed to accommodate stretchers (page 21, grand jury report).

Those women weren’t trapped by the dirty equipment throughout the facility, or by the jars of aborted children scattered around. Block those out of your mind, if you can. Imagine that the only problems were narrow doorways and halls. Women were stuck too long because Gosnell did not care enough about women’s health to provide for emergency access.

Amazingly, long after the grand jury report, after Gosnell has been convicted and imprisoned, abortion providers still fight laws like the one in Virginia that prompted Mollie Hemingway to write her post.

I think any legislator or bureaucrat considering regulations on abortion facilities should buy a tape measure. Then go take some photos and make some measurements: an abortion facility’s doors and hallways, and another ambulatory-care facility’s doors and hallways. Have the local EMTs show you what they take into a building to bring out an immobile patient – again, take photos and measurements.

That’s sketchy data, but it’s a start. You want data-driven regulations? Fine. Collect the data. I am skeptical of anyone who tells me that my rights as a woman can only be respected by guaranteeing that I’m entitled to two different safety standards, two different door widths, two different hallway requirements.

If abortion advocates think abortion is health care, they can treat it like health care, right down to the width of the doorways.