Found: Anti-Regulation Liberals

Planned Parenthood Opposes Laws Defending Women Who Seek Abortions

June 25, 2012

Planned Parenthood is mounting a campaign to combat state laws in Tennessee, Michigan, and Pennsylvania designed to protect the health of women. 

At issue are controversial laws requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, which require providers to meet certain medical and professional standards.

Denise Burke, Vice President of Legal Affairs for Americans United for Life, pointed to evidence that suggests, "Women are receiving substandard care."

"It is important to make sure that women receive safe, competent care on abortions," she said.

Burke noted that 12 states require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. (Tennessee is set to become the 13th.) Twenty-eight states have "comprehensive regulations."

The Tennessee law requiring abortion physicians to obtain "admitting privileges at a licensed hospital" in the county where the abortion is performed, or a county adjacent to it, will take effect July 1. The abortion doctor must let the patient know which hospital has granted privileges and where she can go if complications arise.

Planned Parenthood opposes the measure.

Senator Mae Beavers (R., Mt. Juliet), who introduced the law into the Tennessee state Senate, told the Free Beacon she supported the bill because "if a woman has an abortion at those clinics and has complications, she deserves to be treated by a doctor with hospital privileges."

"We had reports of women dying from taking the abortion pill," she said.

Mary Spaulding Balch, State Legislation Director for National Right to Life, agreed.

In a statement to the Free Beacon, she said admitting privilege laws aim "to ensure that a woman who suffers complications from an abortion is not abandoned by the one who performed the abortion."

"Complications of abortion are best managed by the abortion provider who performed the abortion," she said in the statement.

If a woman faces medical problems during an abortion, a clinic doctor who has the ability to practice in a hospital nearby can take her there to treat her.

"Requiring that abortion providers have admitting privileges at local hospitals ensures" that women get the care they need, Bach said.

At least 46 states require some abortion reporting, and 23 states have specific reporting on complications. The Tennessee bill originally required specific reporting on all abortions, including those with complications, but an amendment struck out this provision.

"This is critical information that we all need to ensure women’s health and safety," Burke said.

Forty-three states, along with the District of Columbia, require abortion doctors to have medical licenses.

While state abortion clinic restrictions followed Planned Parenthood’s own "internal treatment protocols," the family planning organization still opposed the bills, Burke said. "They’re desperate to oppose state oversight, any outside oversight policing their actions."

Planned Parenthood declined requests for comment.

Planned Parenthood sent hundreds of supporters to the Michigan state capital to protest HB 5711, the Omnibus Life Bill. The bill passed the state House, and the Senate will likely take it up in September.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bruce Rendon (R., Lake City), told the Free Beacon that the primary goal of the Omnibus Life Bill is to defend the health of women who have abortions.

"HB 5711 calls for meaningful oversight and regulation of facilities that provide abortion services," he said, "to ensure that women who do choose to have an abortion are treated according to national and state medical standards."

Many clinics, he said, "operate in an unsafe manner and place women in tremendous risk of infection, complications, and in some cases death."

Nevertheless, he said, "This bill does not impact legitimate physicians and caregivers that provide abortion services."

"Part of this bill seeks to protect by offering prescreening to determine if women are being forced into having abortions," Rendon said. "If a woman indicates that such a threat exists, the bill requires that the pre-screeners give information about how to deal with abuse."

This provision is intended to help decrease the number of forced abortions in Michigan.

Rendon and other legislators say the Philadelphia case of Kermit Gosnell spurred them to act. Gosnell was charged with the deaths of seven live-born babies and one woman. An FBI raid revealed extremely dirty conditions—including bloody recliners, urine, and cat feces—and women complained that his clinic left them "sterile" and "near death."

Pennsylvania, in response, passed a law in December requiring "clinics that perform surgical abortions to meet the same medical and construction standards as other outpatient surgical facilities."

The law came into effect on Tuesday, and eight of Pennsylvania’s 22 abortion clinics suspended abortion services. One voluntarily closed, two have been put under a hospital license, and five will be allowed only to offer pills for abortion.

Just one abortion clinic met all of the new law’s criteria immediately. All of Planned Parenthood’s clinics received provisional licenses that last from three to six months.

Many abortion providers called the law "unnecessary" and "burdensome," pointing to existing rules that were not enforced in the Gosnell case, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Nevertheless, state Secretary of Health Eli N. Avila called the law "a public health victory."

Former Senator and Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum (R., Penn.) told the Free Beacon, "I think abortion clinics should have to have the same medical rules and regulations as other healthcare clinics, which they do not. They are basically exempt, and that’s why you see such horrific conditions."