Thursday, May 12, 2011

Planned Parenthood on HB 574

from the inbox:


HARRISBURG, PA - Today the Pennsylvania House of Representatives ignored the needs of thousands of Pennsylvania women and voted to pass H.B. 574, a dangerous bill that would regulate free standing abortion providers as ambulatory surgical facilities (ASF) and subject them to the ambulatory surgical facility regulations. Abortion is the only medical procedure with its own set of burdensome state regulations in existence today, but H.B. 574 would heap on additional unnecessary and costly requirements such as the tripling of procedure rooms from their current size.

“We are disheartened to see that so many house members are content to see ANY bill, rather then a good bill, pass” says Sari Stevens, Executive Director for Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates. “We had an opportunity to ensure that the tragedy of Kermit Gosnell would not be repeated in our state. Instead, we may see reputable, safe providers shutting their doors and more substandard clinics operating under the radar to fill that gap.”

Currently, Pennsylvania abortion providers operate under several forms of regulation including Ambulatory Gynecological Surgery in Hospitals and Clinics, the Abortion Control Act, the MCARE Act, Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations.

Neither the Secretary of Health, Dr. Eli Avila, nor the Chairwoman of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, Senator Pat Vance, believe including abortion providers under the ambulatory surgical facility regulation is necessary. “It’s surprising that a male attorney has become the expert on abortion regulation with no testimony or even so much as a public hearing on the matter, when the licensed doctor heading the Department of Health and the former nurse heading the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee both support a different legislative response to this situation” said Stevens.

Proponents of the bill point to the Grand Jury indictment of Kermit Gosnell, which initially recommended applying Ambulatory Surgical Facility regulations to independent abortion providers. Yet they fail to mention that the District Attorney himself clarified that position in a letter to House leadership last week, saying the following: “HB 574 goes beyond the scope of the Grand Jury report and would bring under the scope of both the Health Care Facilities Act and the ASF regulations facilities that are presently not included in either.”

Furthermore, the Grand Jury report and indictment of Kermit Gosnell actually praised the independent abortion facilities that would be forced to cease operations under the proposed legislation: “Many organizations that perform safe abortion procedures do their own monitoring and adhere to strict, self-imposed standards of quality. But the excellent safety records and the quality care that these independently monitored clinics deliver to patients are no thanks to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.”

“The purpose of abortion regulations should be to protect women’s health, not shut down safe providers,” remarked Dayle Steinberg, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania. “Providers who conform to the regulations currently in place are providing a high level of care. What we saw with the events at the Gosnell clinic was someone who willfully disregarded these standards and regulations. Women need accessible care and better enforcement of existing regulations, not additional, unnecessary regulations and politically motivated attacks.”

The sponsor of H.B. 574 and its proponents continue to claim that this bill will not decrease access to safe medical care. Yet when anti-abortion organizations urged a previous victim of Kermit Gosnell to testify before the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee she made it clear that she had sought out his clinic because he was “the doctor she could afford.” By pushing H.B. 574, these hard-line anti-abortion organizations will severely increase the cost of an abortion by over 400% and decrease access to high quality providers. Despite their claims, H.B. 574 has one purpose - to close the safe, affordable abortion providers that Pennsylvania women trust. It has nothing to do with keeping women safe.

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