MSNBC: After Tiller

In a frank and unsettling segment of her show, MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry talks to journalist Irin Carmon and the Center for Reproductive Rights’ Policy and Advocacy Advisor Kelly Baden in a discussion of new efforts to impede women’s access to abortion in the aftermath of the murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

Harris-Perry featured clips of Irin Carmon’s recent project, a MSNBC’s original documentary that recounts Tiller’s tragic story and also chronicles the salvation of his Wichita practice by reproductive health advocate Julie Burkhart, who reopened the clinic about a year ago. Despite death threats and harassment, Burkhart is committed to keeping the clinic “open and accessible” to provide reproductive care to women who would otherwise have to drive 200 miles to obtain an abortion.

The Center’s Kelly Baden discussed the access issue in terms of what she called “clear calculated coordinated strategies” from anti-abortion activists to make it so difficult for physicians to provide in a state “that clinics are forced to close their doors.” She highlighted that the issue of admitting privileges, where a doctor must have privileges at a local hospital in order to perform abortions in that state, is one driven purely by politics and in no way by medical necessity.

Admitting privileges require abortion providers to obtain permission to treat patients for complications at a nearby hospital. This is, of course, nonsense: not only are hospitals already required to accept all patients in emergency situations, but abortion is one of the safest medical procedures—with a 99% safety record.

The American Medical Association opposes these kinds of laws for that very reason and says there is “no medical basis” for them. In the end, these laws just give politically-motivated hospital administrators the power to deny these admitting privileges and put providers out of practice.