Planned Parenthood must be held to high standard

June 4, 2013

Reports citing unsafe, unsanitary con­ditions at two of Delaware’s Planned Parenthood clinics are deeply disturbing, and charges of unprofes­sional conduct filed after these conditions came to light are too little, too late.

Those who hope problems at Planned Par­enthood will shut down clinics where women can obtain abortions should take note: One in three medical appointments for reproductive health in Delaware takes place in one of these clinics. Planned Parenthood services are a vital part of healthcare for Delaware women.

Those who would defend Planned Parent­hood as a beacon of women’s rights should also take note: Former employees report serious lapses in basic medical care – steril­izing instruments, providing clean examina­tion rooms, and administering necessary medication – and possible abuse of patients.

After concerns became public, state regula­tors issued a complaint against a Planned Parenthood physician who had already sur­rendered his license. But the physician had been allowed to practice after complaints first surfaced, betraying a serious lapse in com­mitment to the principles on which Planned Parenthood was founded.

Beyond that, in the wake of the Earl Bradley child abuse debacle, officials implemented new regulations requiring all medical profes­sionals to report unprofessional behavior and even suspected unprofessional behavior. If state regulators found sufficient reason to file a complaint against a doctor, then every medi­cal professional who practiced at facilities where he practiced was required to report the doctor’s behavior. Why didn’t that happen?

Every medical professional who knew about unsound practices but failed to report them should face charges under Delaware’s report­ing requirements. Health Department officials also said they investigate Planned Parenthood facilities only after a patient complains or, as in this case, after an ambulance was called.

That practice makes no sense. Women who rely on Planned Parenthood clinics may not be prepared to take on the state bureaucracy and file a complaint. These facilities must be subject to frequent inspections and held to the highest standards. Delaware women have a right to expect affordable, reliable, top-quality healthcare, exactly the kind of care Planned Parenthood was once known to provide.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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