Friday, April 29, 2011

Anti-choice advocates want safe access to abortion. Wait, what?

This is rich. Anti-choice advocates are supporting House Bill 574- a bill to alter the legal requirements for abortion clinics- and they're framing their support by saying they want safe conditions in Pennsylvania's abortion clinics. The Pennsylvania Family Institute made this point in a Patriot News op-ed, and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference repeated the same message in an action alert last week.

Reality check. These organizations want women to have no access to abortion care. Do they really expect us to buy this idea that they want women to have safe access to abortion?

HB 574 would rewrite the legal landscape for clinics in such a way that many clinics in Pennsylvania could close. Abortion clinics already follow a long list of laws and regulations, including required equipment and medical supplies, hospital transfer agreements for emergency services, equipment required for anesthesia, clinical staff licensing requirements, laboratory and pathology requirements, required blood tests specific to abortion care, extensive reporting requirements for each abortion, abortion facility requirements, and complications reporting. Abortion is the only medical procedure in the crimes code, for crying out loud.

By changing the legal playing field for abortion clinics, HB 574 would force clinics to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to alter their operations to comply with the law.

And that's really why these anti-choice advocates support the bill. They know it could further limit women's access to abortion care in Pennsylvania. But that could lead to a public health crisis in Pennsylvania of significant proportions. Pennsylvania women won't stop needing abortion care but will be forced to go out of state or to go to disreputable providers. This will particularly impact poor women and rural women.

Dr. Gosnell allegedly committed some terrible crimes. But abortion providers in Pennsylvania who give safe, legal care don't deserve to be punished for his crimes. That would be the tragedy of HB 574.

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