Sunday, December 14, 2014

NAF's Failures Since 2004 Raise Troubling Questions

National Abortion Federation logo
Yesterday I addressed the failings of the National Abortion Federation after the December 14-15, 2009 site visit that revealed to a NAF representative how bad things were inside Kermit Gosnell's clinic, the Women's Medical Society. NAF did nothing to address the clear danger to women's bodies and lives beyond denying Gosnell's membership application.

But the National Abortion Federation's culpability in the Gosnell fiasco goes back earlier than that. It goes back to the day Gosnell and Leroy Brinkley first started discussing whether he would become an employee of Brinkley's Atlantic Women's Services, a National Abortion Federation member clinic in Delaware.

A modern brick building with a landscaped yard and parking area
Atlantic Women's Medical Services
According to USA Today,  Delaware state records indicate that Gosnell was working at Atlantic Women's Medical Services as early as 2004. This means that patients that specifically should have been protected from the likes of Gosnell by the National Abortion Federation had been handed off to him by a member clinic for five years prior to the site visit. These patients would have been handed off to Gosnell indefinitely were it not for a totally unrelated drug raid that closed the Women's Medical Society down in 2010.

Since as early as 2004, women such as the mother of Baby Boy A would walk into that highly reputable clinic, which would collect their money and turn them over to Gosnell. He'd start their abortions at the NAF clinic, then send them to his clinic to finish. Those women would end up doped within inches of their lives by untrained people and left to moan on blood-stained recliners amid the fleas and cat feces.

Does the National Abortion Federation do nothing to ensure that the quality of doctors who work at their member clinics is at least marginal? "Better than Gosnell" isn't that high a bar to clear. Do they have no policy guidelines for vetting doctors? Do they have no mechanism for checking on the backgrounds of the doctors that their clinics use before admitting those clinics as members? Do they not periodically verify the quality of doctors their clinics use in order to ensure ongoing quality of care in those member clinics?

Screenshot of the content quoted in this post
Screenshot of NAF membership requirements
Click to enlarge.
According to their web site, they do. They state (emphasis in original):
  • NAF sets the standards for abortion care in the U.S. and Canada. Therefore, NAF member facilities are required to participate in periodic quality assurance site visits. Currently, NAF’s Clinical Services Department conducts Quality Assurance and Improvement (QAI) visits with prospective members prior to their acceptance into NAF and on a regular basis thereafter.
  • We will also ask for specific information about the individual medical personnel working at your facility. The Physician’s Questionnaire must be completely filled out for each full- or part-time employee who provides abortion care. Questions regarding date of birth, social security number, and DEA number are required for the National Practitioners Data Bank, which NAF uses as part of its certification process. All information is held in the strictest confidence and will be redacted, at your request, once the application process is complete.
  • Each year, NAF publishes Clinical Policy Guidelines (CPGs). All NAF Provider Members adhere to these evidence-based clinical standards. A copy of the CPGs will be sent with your membership package and a CPG compliance form is attached to the application.
Mugshot of Kermit Gosnell, showing a balding man of about 60 years of age
Whatever they might have in writing, in actual practice the National Abortion Federation clearly does not have even a remotely adequate mechanism to ensure that their member clinics only use doctors who can be trusted to provide their patients with at least minimal quality of care. Either that, or Gosnell met their standards. Neither possibility inspires confidence.

One could legitimately argue that NAF has no responsibility for the patients of non-member providers, but they do have a responsibility toward the patients of their own member clinics. Regarding Gosnell, they failed miserably for at least six years, and would have failed for far longer if left to their own devices. Further, it wasn't until 2011, a year after the raid that exposed the conditions inside Gosnell's clinic for all the world to see, that NAF finally expelled all of Leroy Brinkley's clinics from their ranks. For an additional year, they had entrusted women to the care of a man who had demonstrated either an inability or an unwillingness to protect his own patients from somebody like Gosnell.

How many Gosnellesque doctors are currently working at National Abortion Federation facilities? How many women who are trusting NAF with their bodies and lives are being handed off to appalling quacks? Will NAF get to work ferreting these guys out and expelling those that hire them from their ranks?

Considering the "at least they're better than the Women's Medical Society" quality of an abundance of NAF member clinics, I sincerely doubt it.

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