Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Earlier this year, the Guttmacher Institute issued a state-by-state comparison of abortion restrictions enacted since Roe v. Wade. Oklahoma leads all states with 22 restrictive laws. Oregon has the fewest with zero. Virginia now has 20 and may surpass all states within a few years.
Yet the sheer number of state-imposed hurdles in Virginia does not adequately convey the burdens confronting women in our state. That’s because one of these 20, which received final approval from Gov. Bob McDonnell late last month, does more harm than all the rest. The measure requires any medical facility providing five or more abortions per month to be regulated as a type of hospital.
In their recent commentary (“A woman’s safety is paramount,” May 9), Victoria Cobb and Mallory Quigley describe the law as merely requiring “increased health and safety standards for abortion facilities.” I describe it as a Trojan horse — and not a well-disguised one at that. In addition to procedural and operational requirements, the measure includes unwarranted and unnecessary architectural mandates.
Even the procedural and operational demands are difficult to justify. After all, such rigorous standards are being imposed upon one of the safest medical procedures performed in Virginia. Nevertheless, these requirements are not overly burdensome as long as the state continues to implement them judiciously.
Last year, all 20 women’s health centers in Virginia received initial inspections based upon these health and safety standards. All passed inspection. All received hospital licensure.
Beginning next year, sweeping new architectural standards will be added to the operational requirements. Herein lies the Trojan horse. Women’s health centers will have to meet facility standards affecting ceiling height, room size, corridor width, sink depth and scores of other structural changes that have no appreciable bearing on patient safety.
Cobb and Quigley champion these provisions as if their motivation was to improve safety standards. That’s disingenuous. They seek to end abortion, and the missions of their respective organizations make this abundantly clear.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli deserves credit for being a bit more honest about the intent of these measures. He states these restrictions are designed to “make abortion disappear in America.”
As a state senator, Cuccinelli introduced a bill requiring “any clinic or other facility performing 25 or more abortions per year” to be an outpatient hospital. His 2005 measure explicitly specified the dimensions of corridors, elevators and rooms to be entered into the Code of Virginia — which is as bizarre as it is unprecedented. For example, lines 270-271 of his lengthy bill read, “Operating rooms shall have minimum dimensions of 16’ x 18’.” It seems he wanted to prevent the Virginia Board of Health and the general public from having any latitude to consider more appropriate dimensions and, possibly, grandfather in the existing health centers.
In 2005, I presented testimony in opposition to his measure: “Our Planned Parenthood affiliate has spent nearly $4 million to construct new facilities in Albemarle County and Roanoke that meet the architectural standards of an outpatient hospital. As a result, we now [provide medical services] in cavernous 16- by 18-foot procedure rooms with adjacent scrub rooms, rather than appropriately sized 9- by 9-foot exam rooms. The additional 200-plus square feet of space does nothing to make our patients any safer. It is just expensive, unoccupied space.”
Planned Parenthood built these facilities to hospital standards in order to overcome this type of legislation. Nevertheless, we will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional facility renovations and equipment upgrades to fully comply with the new law. We intend to raise private funds to do so rather than increase our fees for contraceptives, cancer screenings, STD treatments, abortions and our other medical services. Unfortunately, other reproductive health care facilities, including some Planned Parenthood centers, have lacked the resources to rebuild.
These providers (and the women they serve) have weathered our state’s other 19 restrictive laws. Many will be unable to build robust medical facilities to endure the 20th. Collectively, these women’s health centers provide contraceptive services, gynecological exams, testing and treatment of STDs as well as early abortion.
Cobb and Quigley claim that “a woman’s safety is paramount.” The forced closure of any of these vital health centers will serve only to undermine the health and safety of Virginia’s women.
Weather JournalMany very icy despite 'bust' claims