Mad Scientists of the Laboratories of Democracy: Mary Sue McClurkin Edition
Since embarking on my Mad Scientists of the Laboratories of Democracy series, I have been wrestling with an existential dilemma that I’m sure will sound familiar to most readers, that is: When faced with monolithic human stupidity is it best to back slowly and quietly away, so as not to induce an escalation to barking madness -or- does one have a responsibility to stop and try to help?
Today’s case study involves Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R- Dixieland), who has been serving the good people of Alabama, in their state legislature, for close to fourteen years now. Being a God-fearing, well-bred southern lady of refined sensibilities, Rep. McClurkin despairs of the fact that girls, these days, have far too many options when it comes to their lady parts.
Ergo, she has sponsored HB 57, which goes to the floor today, and would require physicians at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals; require clinics to follow ambulatory clinic building codes and make it a felony — punishable by up to 10 years in prison — for a nurse, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant to dispense abortion-inducing medications like “morning after” pills.
Bills like HB 57 are designed to do an end-run around the stubborn endurance of Roe v. Wade and attempt to “regulate” abortion clinics out of existence without overturning the law of the land. Supporters of such bills allege that abortion clinics should be regulated by hospital standards and, that, until they are, the public is endangered.
The bill, which opponents say would impose financial burdens to comply that will force most of the state’s abortion clinics to close, is expected to pass the Republican-controlled state government and be signed into law. However, Rep. Patricia Todd, a Democrat from Birmingham, who opposes the bill, said it’s clear McClurkin and her supporters don’t know what they’re talking about.
They’re drafting a bill on a subject they have no knowledge of. They’ve never been in a clinic. They don’t know what the regulations are.
And Rep. Todd “ain’t just a-whistling Dixie.” As if on cue, Rep. McClurkin proved Todd correct with this gobsmacker of a statement, in defense of HB 57, to the Montgomery Advertiser:
When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body. That’s a big thing. That’s a big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that.
Clearly, the smallest organ in Rep. McClurkin’s body is her tiny brain. This is a woman who chairs the Alabama State Legislature’s standing committee on Education Policy and sports a MA from Auburn, making an ass of herself not to mention undermining her Republican colleagues’ parallel efforts toward fetal personhood legislation.
Sane people were quick to point out that a fetus is not considered an organ by doctors. And even if it were - it wouldn’t be the largest organ in the body.
The facts, for those who care for them, are that 88% of all abortions in the US occur before 12 weeks gestation. That makes the ginormous baby-organ the size of a small plum (see above).
Neither is abortion a “big surgery.” In fact, it’s not a “surgery” at all in the sense of cutting someone open. It is also universally recognized as one of the safest procedures in medicine. According to the [factually biased] Centers for Disease Control, approximately 12 women in the United States died from complications resulting from abortions in 2009, in a year when 784,507 such procedures were reported. Those clinics must be doing something right, eh?
If this legislative approach sounds vaguely familiar, there’s a reason for that. It is a TRAP law, several of which are flapping their leathery wings, as we speak, in a State Legislature near you. TRAP stands for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, and is “template legislation” available on the internet from anti-abortion groups such as Americans United for Life. So far, TRAP law supporters, have been successful in 16 states.
Here’s how the National Abortion Federation describes TRAP bills:
These measures are often introduced by abortion opponents who claim that abortion is an unsafe and unregulated procedure. By implying that abortion clinics are uniquely dangerous and in need of special regulation, such bills recklessly promote an unfounded fear that abortion is unsafe. Abortion is in fact one of the safest medical procedures provided in the United States.
Many TRAP bills grant broad authority to the state department of health to develop structural and staffing requirements for abortion clinics. Often, the resulting regulations are based on existing hospital guidelines including specific dimensions for procedure rooms and hallways, doorway widths, and complex ventilation systems. Some regulations mandate what types of medical professionals must be on staff, assign certain duties to various staff members or require patient evaluations that are not medically necessary. These types of regulations are not medically justified.
Abortion has an outstanding safety record. Instead, these regulations create a large burden for small outpatient clinics. Clinics can be forced to extensively remodel and hire new staff or even close entirely, resulting in women having to travel great distances to obtain abortion care.
In light of that, it makes a certain amount of sense that HB 57 would pop up in Alabama because Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin is, and has been, a big fan of the ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) “bill mill.” Indeed, she has served as the ALEC Alabama State Chair for some time now. Nothing like corporate-sponsored canned legislation to keep the wheels of Democracy running smoothly, allowing more time for ribbon-cuttings and fund-raisers.
Remind me, again, though . . . what do we elect these people to do?
Going back to my original question: “do we ignore the stupid? or try to help? at least one fellow blogger, Julie at leftinalabama.com [and therefore better placed to have an impact], has decided to fight the stupid:
We want to help, MarySue. Really. Because you are sitting down in Montgomery writing law. You are sitting down in Montgomery meddling in the physician-patient relationship. You are meddling in things about which you have no knowledge whatsoever, and that means you are a danger to society.
I have to agree, Julie, and I sincerely wish you good luck with that . . .