Karen Heller: Abortion-clinic bills about an agenda, not health
Stealth legislation designed to close abortion clinics
Closing clinics creates jobs or what?
One in three women has an abortion before age 45. Radically altering clinic regulations, as two state bills that have passed in their respective chambers propose to do, will not affect that ratio.
“We’re going to have a health crisis if this happens,” says Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania CEO Dayle Steinberg. “Any policies that create barriers to abortion access don’t decrease the incidence of abortions. They decrease the incidence of safe abortions.”
As State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.) said of the bills: “They pretty much suck.”
Given the antiabortion stance of Gov. Corbett and the Republican-controlled legislature, a bill is likely to be signed into law, if not in the coming weeks, then this fall.
“What has happened is what most of us feared,” Hughes says. “They would take the Gosnell situation, which was a total aberration, and then just use it to further whatever agenda.”
With January’s grand jury report of Kermit Gosnell, charged with the deaths of seven babies and a woman who died during an abortion at his West Philadelphia clinic, the state Department of Health began rigorous, unannounced inspections of state abortion providers. Astonishingly, Gosnell’s facility hadn’t been inspected since April 1993. Sen. Pat Vance (R., Cumberland), the only registered nurse in the legislature, proposed a bipartisan bill to ensure the enforcement of regulations so such atrocities never occur again.
But Sen. Bob Mensch (R., Montgomery) attached an amendment mirroring the House’s stringent bill, proposed by Rep. Matt Baker (R., Bradford), which would require abortion clinics to meet the exacting standards of ambulatory surgical centers (ASC): an elevator, wide halls for gurneys, a full nursing staff, specific flooring and ventilation systems. Yet abortions are not invasive surgery, and most patients leave an hour after the procedure.
Pennsylvania has 20 freestanding abortion clinics, most in our region. Not one clinic would meet the new standards.