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30-Mile Admissions Case Represents Major Advance in Abortion Battle

By Dennis Howard

The success of a new Texas law prohibiting abortion unless the abortionist has hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of the abortion is a major step ahead in the abortion battle, according to the new executive director of New Jersey’s Legal Center for Defense of Life, headquartered here.

He is Andrew L. Schlafly, a Harvard Law classmate of President Barack Obama and the son of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. He succeeds Edward J. Gilhooly as executive director. Gilhooly meanwhile succeeds the late Richard Collier as president of the Legal Center. Collier died last Christmas after years at the helm of the organization.

According to Schlafly, the major advantage of the 30-mile admissions rule is that it is based on a widely accepted professional standard and is a “no-brainer” when it comes to enforcement compared to other efforts to restrict abortion. “It’s clear cut. Either an abortion clinic meets this standard, or it doesn’t. A great many of them can’t.”

He pointed out that in Texas, about a dozen abortion clinics had to shut their doors as soon as it became law, and another abortionist had his medical license suspended when he performed abortions in defiance of the new law.

A similar law has been on the books in Missouri for eight years and is a major factor in that state’s declining number of abortions. Similar laws are being considered in other states such as Pennsylvania, where it would have prevented the Kermit Gosnell tragedy.

The lack of this standard earlier meant that the abortion industry could easily shift both costs and risks in emergency cases to local hospitals and doctors. As a result, some women died who should have lived while others experienced major consequences from botched abortions when they were simply passed on to local emergency rooms. The abortion mills typically got off scot-free.

Said Schlafly, “The lack of a law like this in Pennsylvania is what enabled the infamous Dr. Gosnell to operate for years despite numerous other violations of medical standards that simply were not enforced by the state.”

He pointed out that restrictions based on “fetal pain” and “no abortions after 20 weeks of gestation” affect a very small percentage of all abortions.

“This 30-mile rule puts the abortionist himself out of business completely unless he can comply. Many simply cannot because abortion attracts a great many sub-standard professionals who can’t get admitting privileges in a recognized hospital.”

According to the most recent study by the Guttmacher Institute, hospitals and private physicians account for just five percent of all abortions. The other 95 percent are provided by Planned Parenthood, free-standing abortion clinics, and other non-specialized clinics. (cf. Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, Guttmacher Institute, 2011)

Schlafly’s second test for effectiveness of anti-abortion legislation is the response of the abortion industry. He said, “After the 30-mile admission rule was passed, Planned Parenthood went ballistic in spite of their initial reluctance to appeal their losses to the Supreme Court for fear they would lose. They then lost in this case on appeal all the way to the US Supreme Court.”

He pointed out that some approaches that may appeal to pro-life hearts and minds are not always effective legally. “You can tell because Planned Parenthood often doesn’t even take the trouble to challenge them. And some friendly state attorneys general fail to defend pro-life laws as strongly as they should.”

He added: “It is time we became a lot more aggressive legally with strong cases that we can appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.”

Schlafly believes that simply enforcing basic professional standards using tools like the 30-mile admission rule can go a long way to ending abortion in the United States. He cited the example of Poland, which has declined from 200,000 abortions a year to less than 1,000 a year.

It also happens to follow the same model that put abortion restrictions on the books in all but a few states in the 19th century by pioneering pro-life physicians led by the late Horatio Storer, M.D. Storer and his colleagues went from state to state to make the US virtually abortion-free. (cf. The Physicians’ Crusade Against Abortion by Frederick N. Dyer)

Those are the same laws that the Supreme Court overrode in Roe v. Wade in the greatest single reversal of states rights in US history.“Substandard medical practices long tolerated by the abortion industry represent the real ‘war on women,’” according to Schlafly. “This industry thrives as always on the outcasts of the medical profession, doctors and other practitioners who can’t make a living on anything else except killing babies. The time has come to end the exploitation of women by these charlatans.”

Dennis Howard is president of The Movement for a Better America, a pro-life educational organization dedicated to finding new ways to transform today’s anti-life culture. He interviewed Andrew Schlafly as he became executive director of the NJ Legal Center for Defense of Life. Schlafly is a member of the bars of the U.S. Supreme Court and more than a half-dozen other federal and state courts. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review and a classmate of Barack Obama. His mother is well-known conservative Phyllis Schlafly.

This article has been reprinted with permission and can be found at