Pa. clinics try to prepare for new abortion regulations

    New regulations on clinics that provide abortions in Pennsylvania now need only Gov. Tom Corbett’s signature to become law.

    The clinics are in planning mode.

    The new rules would require clinics to apply for licenses and pass unannounced inspections. For many of the affected facilities, however, the rules would also mean making expensive upgrades and bringing on additional staff.

    Curtiss Hannum of the Philadelphia Women’s Center says discussions are under way on how to fight regulations so they can continue providing abortions.

    “It’s really not clear at this point,” she said. “So there’s lots of discussions about what a waiver would look like. There’s a possibility of being grandfathered in. So the discussions are, really, what is the best strategy.”

    While Hannum said many abortion providers would welcome overhauled inspection rules, she said the mandatory upgrades could make things difficult, especially for those facilities in dense urban areas that can’t easily expand.

    “Wider hallways, larger operating rooms, those really do nothing to improve an already very safe procedure,” she said. “It’s interesting because I don’t think a single legislator has been able to speak to why those things actually would improve patient care.”

    Several legislators who oppose abortion led the charge to make the 22 clinics providing abortions in the state work under the same standards as ambulatory surgical facilities. They developed the regulations after the discovery of deplorable conditions of another Philadelphia abortion clinic, the West Philadelphia facility investigated by a grand jury and run by Kermit Gosnell.

    Gosnell has been charged him with first-degree murder in the deaths of seven babies born alive then killed, and third-degree murder in the death of a patient.

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