Pa. lawmakers expected to consider tougher regulation of abortion clinics

    The Pennsylvania House is expected to consider a bill requiring clinics providing abortions to operate under the same regulations as outpatient surgery facilities.

    Republican lawmakers are still negotiating whether the bill would apply to all of the state’s clinics providing abortions, or just a few. The legislation would mean new licensing–and generally getting up to a different code–would be required for the clinics.

    Opponents say that would price clinics out of operation and limit the availability of abortion care.

    But Rep. Matthew Baker said Monday the bill is about patient safety.

    “If they’re going to do a surgical procedure, they should be subjected to the same regulations as the other 212 ambulatory surgical centers,” he said. “What is just a disgrace is that they are trying to say that they’re overregulated.”

    The state Health Department counts 22 certified clinics performing abortions in Pennsylvania.

    According to a note on the proposed legislation, a few of those may close rather than apply for licensing–which is something critics of the bill charge is the intent of the legislation.

    Andrew Hoover, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, says the legislative push is disingenuous.

    “The people supporting the bill are those who believe women should have no access to abortion care. So now they’re trying to tell us that women should have safe access to abortion care,” Hoover said. “It’s just completely disingenuous for them to say that.

    The bill was drafted in response to a grand jury investigation into grotesque conditions of a Philadelphia abortion clinic operated by Dr. Kermit Gosnell. He is being held without bail in the deaths of a woman who died after a botched 2009 abortion and seven late-term babies who prosecutors say were born alive and then killed.

    The bill has support from House and Senate Republicans, many of whom have said the issue dovetails with their anti-abortion position.

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