As Alabama becomes the fifth state to signed into law more protection for the 20-week-old unborn, Illinois faces accountability for a web of disinformation in its own books.
According to the Chicago Tribune, vague records, holes in reporting, and failed follow-up accountability has left much potentially life-saving information out of government records.
Among the findings: in 2009, about 7,000 abortion procedures were not reported to the state, and nearly 4,000 reports of abortion complications “were missing the required description."
According to Guttmacher—the pro-choice gold-standard institution for abortion statistics—just under 55,000 Illinois women had abortions in 2008.
Presuming the number of abortions was similar in 2009, that means about 7% of all IL abortions had complications with inadequate information provided. And those are just the cases without information about what kind of complications there were.
The new danger is that providing no information masks whether a case is malpractice or natural complications. Without facts, it’s impossible to correctly evaluate the real risk specific procedures pose to the pregnant woman. Without facts, it’s impossible to correctly evaluate the real risk specific doctors pose, as well.
The abortion industry is not a stranger to secrecy. Abortion providers have a high standards of privacy regarding abortion records, abortion referrals, and personal abortion history. One oft-state reason for this is to assuage fears about the stigma of particular pregnancies and/or of having an abortion.
In an age when even advertisements including the "small print" warnings, precisely because the decision is largely a personal, private, and protected decision, it seems all the more important that accurate information about the issue is made available—and readily available—to those who make the decision.
Sometimes too much information to the patient is a problem. As shown in Live Actions' recent undercover reporting, dozens of Planned Parenthood clinics around the country have employed individuals who have blurred the lines between privacy of the patient and endorsing illegal activity, giving tips on how patients can avoid getting their experiences of sex with a minor and even sex trafficking reported.
But in Illinois, even regulation by the authorities has shown significant failures.
According to the Chicago Tribune, reporting “is the only tool Illinois authorities have to monitor some abortion providers, yet regulators may be allowing doctors and clinics to operate off the books. Regulators collect reports from 26 providers, but the abortion rights research group has identified 37 providers doing business in the state."
In other words, regulators didn't receive reports from nearly 30% of Illinois abortion providers.
In a strange comparison, it seems that, in serving the 1 in 3 women who have an abortion, 1 in 3 IL abortion providers abort government reporting.
Unreported complications - or even malpractice - isn’t a stranger to the state.
In 2008, as Illinois legislature became known as the arena where Obama cut his teeth on abortion laws (especially laws regarding “botched” abortion), Fort Wayne obstetrician-gynecologist Geoffrey Cly struggled with the issue from the other side: administering to victims of shoddy abortionists.
At least three of his patients suffered from complications from abortions, including one woman who had to have her uterus removed due to a series of complications from the incomplete removal of tissue—a procedure that would not have been made necessary if the abortion was “properly” performed or followed up on.
Dr. Cly then pushed the country to step up its requirements for abortion providers which could “subject unaffiliated doctors to greater peer review and follow-up.”
It’s said that 4-weeks in the womb, the baby is the size of a period at the end of sentence. In Illinois, an abortion-related death is recorded a little bigger than that...but not by much. According to another article in the Tribune, in those state records, anything under 51 is not accounted for with a number. Thus, since reported abortion-related deaths number below 51, it is simply marked with an asterisk.
So while some would see the asterisk as a badge of honor—i.e. fewer than 50 incidents—each hidden statistic hides a story.
One of the women “numbered’ by the symbolic asterisk, was wife of Maurice Stevenson who died of a blood infection after a Planned Parenthood abortion. The organization could not confirmed whether her death was reported. The 2002 records were “in storage.”
Also according to the Tribune, a couple organizations could not confirm that whether other recent abortion-related deaths—2009, 2008, 2000, 1999, and 1998—were properly recorded or not.
From a statistician’s point of view, it’s an understandable—and common practice—not to give an official headcount for groups making up a small percentage of the whole. Even if the abortion-related death slot were maxed out—with 50 abortion-related deaths of the mother in that year—it would be 1 death for a little over 1,000 abortions.
But from a human point of view—and taking into account that Illinois has significant underreporting of complications—a little more detail could convey a world of meaning.
It might even bring a little more moral accountability to a practice that a majority of Americans - by a 12-point margin - call “immoral.”