Thursday, May 5, 2011

HOUSE BILL 574: The WRONG Response for Abortion Services Care

We have been told that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will likely start debate and possibly vote on the passage of House Bill 574 on Monday, May 9, 2011. This bill, if passed would regulate Pennsylvania’s freestanding abortion providers as ambulatory surgical facilities (ASF) in addition to regulating these clinics under Pennsylvania’s current Abortion Control Act.
As we stated in the blog on this bill a month ago, this is the wrong response to what allegedly happened at Gosnell’s clinic in Philadelphia. Instead of preventing another Gosnell “house of horrors,” this bill will hurt women.
·         It will not improve patient safety;
·         It will force safe providers to close;
·         It will increase the cost of an abortion by as much as $1,000;
·         It will force women to seek care in other states or from marginal or illegal practitioners;
·         It will create two overlapping sets of regulations that are in conflict with each other and in violation of the Abortion Control Act; and
·         It will have the harshest impact on the poor and rural women of Pennsylvania.
It’s now time for you to call, write, and/or email your Pennsylvania State Representative.  Contact information for your legislator can be found here.  Tell your legislator that this bill is wrong, will put more women in danger, and will likely shut down the safe providers.
And here are the talking points from Pennsylvanians for Choice you can use when you make this contact. FYI, Pennsylvanians for Choice is a coalition of organizations supporting full reproductive rights for women in Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania NOW is part of this coalition.

The purpose of abortion regulation should be to make women safe, not to close safe providers. House Bill 574 would regulate Pennsylvania’s freestanding abortion providers as ambulatory surgical facilities (ASF), subject to both the ambulatory surgical facility regulations and the ambulatory gynecological surgery in hospitals and clinics regulations. Abortion is the only medical procedure with its own set of burdensome state regulations. Instead of improving patient care, HB574 will make it difficult or impossible for good safe providers to continue to provide care – opening the door for a disastrous public health crisis.
Women need accessible care and better enforcement of existing regulations, not additional, unnecessary regulations. HB 574 will force providers to alter their facilities and staffing in ways that will make their delivery of services expensive or impossible. Women in Pennsylvania need better access to affordable, high quality health care, not politically-motivated barriers.
If HB 574 is enacted,
Ø  Abortion providers would be required to increase the size of their procedure rooms by 3 or 4 times their current size. 
Ø  Providers would be required to employ a full-time registered nurse (RN) even when abortion procedures are not being performed.  Under current law, an RN or licensed practical nurse (LPN) must be on duty when abortions are performed.  HB 574 requires the presence of an RN anytime patients are present, requiring clinics to employ an additional staff position full-time on days when the clinic provides routine gynecological exams and family planning services. 
These are just two of multiple ways that HB 574 would create difficulties in delivery of services to patients.  The costs of HB 574 for a single health center would be hundreds of thousands of dollars, with no proven benefit to patients.
HB 574 will lead to more financial hurdles to abortion care for patients.  The increased costs of complying with HB 574 will likely result in higher fees for abortion services.  Some women who are not able to afford safe abortion care seek out substandard providers or are forced to delay their abortions, thereby increasing medical risk.  This legislation may double current medical fees and therefore make safe abortion care inaccessible to many women.
Rural and low-income women will have even less access to safe abortion care.  Only 22% of PA counties have an abortion provider. The enactment of HB 574 would force some of these providers to close. Women who need abortions will then leave the state where Pennsylvania can no longer regulate their safety.
Abortion facilities in Pennsylvania are currently subject to extensive regulations.   Current law provides for required equipment and medical supplies, hospital transfer agreements for emergency services, equipment required for anesthesia, clinical staff licensing requirements, mandatory counseling and informed consent requirements, laboratory and pathology requirements, required blood tests specific to abortion care, extensive reporting requirements for each abortion, parental consent requirements, abortion facility requirements, and complications reporting.  Safe, high-quality abortion care currently exists in Pennsylvania at freestanding facilities that abide by all current regulations. These facilities were praised in the Gosnell grand jury report for their excellent medical care and safety protocols and stated to be “more stringent and more protective of women's safety than the abortion regulations in Pennsylvania." Regulations that genuinely protect the health and safety of patients are critical, however politically motivated barriers to service put more women at risk.
Please take action Today!  Call, write, fax, and email your legislator. Tell your Representative that this bill is wrong, that it will put more women's lives in danger, and that it will likely shut down the safe providers. Thank you!

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