The New York Times Magazine had a massive feature on “The New Abortion Providers” last week. The premise is that doctors who provide abortions have been marginalized within the medical profession and have been assaulted, even murdered, by anti-abortion activists. Writer Emily Bazelon opens with a proclamation from Randall Terry, the head of Operation Rescue, which she associates with the first murder of an abortion provider.
Now, Bazelon writes, things have changed:
Over the last decade, abortion-rights advocates have quietly worked to reverse the marginalization encouraged by activists like Randall Terry. Abortion-rights proponents are fighting back on precisely the same turf that Terry demarcated: the place of abortion within mainstream medicine. This abortion-rights campaign, led by physicians themselves, is trying to recast doctors, changing them from a weak link of abortion to a strong one. Its leaders have built residency programs and fellowships at university hospitals, with the hope that, eventually, more and more doctors will use their training to bring abortion into their practices. The bold idea at the heart of this effort is to integrate abortion so that it’s a seamless part of health care for women — embraced rather than shunned.
This is the future. Or rather, one possible future. There’s a long way to go from here to there. Between 2000 and 2005, the last year that statistics are available, the number of abortion facilities in the U.S. dropped 2 percent — a smaller dip than those in the preceding five-year periods, but a decline nonetheless. “The ’90s were about getting abortion back into residency training and medical schools,” says Jody Steinauer, an OB-GYN professor at the University of California at San Francisco, the hub of the abortion-rights countermovement in medicine. “Now it’s about getting abortion into our practices.”
I’m not sure what to make of this story. But Mark Hemingway, a colleague at GetReligion, was. He wasn’t buying any of it, and he critiqued the article under one of my favorite headlines: “There’s a pony in here somewhere.”
Anyway, if you can stomach diving through the pile of bias in Bazelon’s work, she knows the abortion topic well enough and does enough reportage you can usually find a pony of interesting info in there somewhere.