Since the California Department of S Health began keeping statistics on publicly funded abortions in 1993, the number of abortions on Latina women has surpassed those that are performed on their Anglo counterparts. By 1996, according to the latest statistics released by the California Department of Health Services, Latina women underwent 33 percent of all publicly funded abortions, while Anglo women underwent 25 percent. Given this high rate of abortions among predominately Catholic Latinas, pro-life activists charge that Latina women are being targeted by the abortion industry. Pro-lifers point out that discounts on the price of abortions are routinely advertised in Spanish language television channels as well as other Spanish language media, but are not advertised in English television stations or newspapers. Marcella Melendez, past director of La Cuna Pregnancy services in predominately Latino Wilmington, said, “the ads that are placed on Spanish language television affirm what we already know — that our people are being targeted for population control by the cultural elite who feel threatened by the growing Latino population.”
Because television, both in English and Spanish, is so highly priced, only the most affluent clinics can afford to advertise on these media. One such abortion provider is Dr. Edward Allred, who owns the Family Planning Associates chain of abortion clinics. (Allred’s abortion practice is so lucrative that, in addition to owning the chain of clinics, he owns the Los Alamitos Race Track,) Family Planning Associates clinics are offering a discount on abortions to viewers of KMEX Channel 34. Dr. Allred records the outpatient information of each of his KMEX clients on specially marked outpatient record forms.
KMEX viewers receive special discounts at Allred’s clinics. A copy of the day’s receipts at one clinic shows that a first-trimester abortion under general anesthesia is $325. On the same-ledger is an entry for KMEX, and the cost for the abortion is $260. The co-pay for an abortion covered by insurance is $75. Family Planning Associates also offers a discount for later abortions. For a second trimester abortion, up to 24 weeks, there is a $100 discount if one is a KMEX viewer. According to the receptionist who answered the phone, the clinic will not perform abortions after the 24th week. “It’s illegal to perform an abortion after 25 weeks in California or in the United States,” she said. In the United States, abortion on demand is permitted up to the ninth month but many abortionists will not perform second and third trimester abortions because of liability concerns.
Because of his large Latino clientele, Dr. Allred requires that his front and back office staff attend in-service education. Each staff member is monitored for compliance by having a note placed in their personnel file, as well as having copies sent to the administration and the nursing department. The course outline reveals the topics that are covered in the course: patient rights, emotional and cultural sensitivity. One topic of particular interest is guilt. The course outline shows that the staff is told that one of the most common reasons for a woman to feel guilty about having an abortion is that she knows they are killing a child. The women may also feel that an abortion is “taking the easy way out.” The outline tells the staff to dismiss these concerns and instead “encourage her to know the truth about herself.”
At the conclusion of the course outline is the topic, “Fostering Positive Public Relations: Conscientiously Providing Good Care Makes A Difference? Some of the abortion clinics found in Latino neighborhoods are little more than store-front operations and provide substandard care. A prominent pro-life attorney said that Dr. Allred is very careful to provide quality care during an abortion “because he has so many assets and doesn’t want to risk getting sued for malpractice.”
The KMEX discounts Dr. Allred provides are of special concern given his statement in an interview with Pastor Al Howard of His Nesting Place on 10 September 1984. Allred was quoted as saying that “actually, what I’d really like to do is go to Latin America and help establish some sort of population control programs using some of the expertise that we’ve gained…” Allred was quoted in the 12 October 1980 issue of the San Diego Union as saying, “Population control is too important to be stopped by some right-winged pro-life types…take the new influx of Hispanic immigrants. Their lack of respect for democracy and social order is frightening. I hope I can do something to stem that tide. I’d set up a clinic in Mexico for free if I could. Maybe one in Calexico would help. The survival of our society could be at stake.”
Another clinic that advertises on KMEX is Her Medical Clinic. Her Medical Clinic is owned by Dr, Leo Kenneally. Kenneally’s clinic had briefly been owned by Dr. Allred when Dr. Kenneally’s license had been suspended by the Medical Board of California, after four women died at the clinic. After eight years of litigation, a state court judge overturned the board’s action against Dr. Kenneally. A 5 April 1998 Los Angeles Times article, quotes the judge as to why it was necessary to overturn the board’s suspension of Dr. Kenneally’s license. The article states he was an “unselfish and committed provider serving the poor in a community that is grossly underserved medically .… His absence would make it much more difficult for disadvantaged women to obtain services.”
Not all abortion clinics can afford television advertising to reach their target population — Latina women. These clinics, often storefronts in strip malls, will advertise in newspapers like La Guia, a Spanish-language paper distributed free of charge in Latino supermarkets. One past issue of La Guia carries an ad for Clinica Medica para la Mujer de Hoy, offering a $10 discount. A call to the clinic in Montebello revealed that the discount depended on which “flyer or advertisement” one brought into the clinic. When asked where flyers were distributed, the receptionist said that she was not sure. This was not the case at the East Los Angeles clinic. There the receptionist said that the flyers “are available outside the clinic.” A call to the city halls of San Marino, Bradbury and La Verne showed that none of these cities would allow flyers offering a discount to abortion clinics to be passed within their boundaries.
The Mission called Dr. Edward Allred’s office at the Westmoreland clinic asking for comment about their ads on Channel 34. The office manager, Rives Wiggins said “We don’t discuss this with the media.”
The above article was first published in Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, March 1999. It appears here in abridged form.