02.09.2014

Abortion clinics

As we reported yesterday, a new set of unnecessarily stringent regulations have threatened the three remaining abortion clinics in Kansas.
Republicans in Congress hoping to push for tighter regulation of the country’s abortion clinics may need to go back to the drawing board. Spurred by the controversy over Kermit Gosnell, an illegal abortion provider in Philadelphia who was convicted of murder for performing incredibly late-term abortions on low-income women, abortion opponents have been attempting to conflate Gosnell’s crimes with legal abortion providers across the country. The analysis of the state documents revealed that abortion clinics are already regularly inspected. Nevertheless, the actual data typically hasn’t made a difference for abortion opponents, who continue to indirectly compromise access to reproductive health care by targeting clinics. The Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws, tend to capture fewer headlines than other types of abortion restrictions, largely because they’re complicated pieces of legislation that may not seem outrageous on the surface. Colonoscopies, dental surgery and plastic surgery are much more invasive than the abortions we provide, and they are not being asked to live up to this kind of strict regulation.
Additionally, the regulations on which these new ones are based were intended for new hospitals, not existing clinics. Abortion will become all but impossible in America—for poor, minority, and rural women in particular—in direct contradiction to a Supreme Court decision, and the court itself will have done nothing to stand in the way.
But this afternoon, a judge issued a temporary restraining order that keeps the regulations from going into effect, thus allowing two clinics to stay open that were expected to close today.
Nauser pointed out how ridiculous the regulations are from a health standpoint, pointing out that, under them,  she could legally perform a D&C on a woman having a miscarriage but not on a woman who wants an elective abortion. Back in May, Senate Republicans called for a widespread investigation into abortion clinics nationwide — and House Republicans followed suit by sending letters to health officials in each state, demanding to see documentation about how each of them monitors and regulates abortion procedures.


Abortion clinics are already very well-regulated, and the services they provide are extremely safe. RH Reality Check notes that the complicated web of state-level rules often subject abortion providers to onerous reporting requirements and lengthy paperwork, while their patients typically have to complete a lengthy application to receive care.
Earlier this summer, as Texas Republicans forced through a package of stringent abortion clinic restrictions that will likely force most of them to close, state health officials testified against the proposed legislation. NORTH DAKOTA: This state made national headlines by imposing the strictest abortion law in the nation, a six-week ban that reproductive rights advocates are already preparing to battle in court. MISSISSIPPI: Just like North Dakota, Mississippi only has one abortion clinic left in the entire state. In February, the state assembly passed an emergency law directing the State Board of Health to regulate Virginia’s 22 first-trimester abortion clinics as if they are hospitals. Laura Meyers, chief executive officer of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Falls Church, told The Washington Post that the clinic there will probably not be able to comply with the new regulations because they rent their space and cannot remodel.
According to The Guttmacher Institute, in the first six months of 2011, states proposed over 1,000 restrictions on abortion access and passed 162.
The third clinic, Planned Parenthood in Overland Park, had already passed inspection for being in compliance with the new rules. She became tearful describing how she has proudly followed in her father’s footsteps in providing legal abortions, and how her family has faced protests and picketers for decades. They pointed out that there was significant evidence that Texas’ abortion clinics were already extremely safe. Hodes has been performing abortions for 34 years as part of his private practice, Nauser for 13 years.


Some states said they weren’t aware of any patient ever being harmed in one of their abortion clinics. SB 371 initially sparked outrage because, in its original version, it would have required women taking the abortion pill to undergo two invasive transvaginal ultrasounds. The legislature is advancing a TRAP measure that could force most of the state’s 38 abortion clinics to shut down. Harp, Executive Director of the Virginia Board of Medicine, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that abortions only account for one or two disciplinary cases per year, meaning that about 26,998 abortions are performed in Virginia every year without any problems.
It makes sense, then, that states report very few instances of criminal charges being brought against abortion providers. SB 537 would require all clinics that perform abortions to adhere to the same standards as surgical clinics — even though many of them simply administer the abortion pill to women, which is not actually a surgical procedure. HB 57 would actually simply force that state’s five remaining abortion clinics to close their doors.
Even though the version of SB 371 that passed this week seems tame in comparison to the first version of the legislation, it’s still a dangerous attack on health clinics that threatens to force a Planned Parenthood clinic to stop providing medication abortions. In fact, Maribeth Brewster, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Health, told the Huffington Post that they wrote the new guidelines without even considering the current state of abortion facilities in Virginia.
A Texas law requiring sonograms for women seeking abortions was recently partly blocked by a judge thanks to a Center for Reproductive Rights lawsuit.



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