general hospitals

Roanoke Times Op-Ed: Myths About Abortion Center Regulation

Today, the Roanoke Times published an op-ed by Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb that addresses the myths pro-abortion activists and some in the media have propagated about the abortion center regulation bill recently passed by the General Assembly. Herewith, an excerpt of the op-ed. The entire column can be read by clicking here.

First, the myth that abortion centers will now have to meet the same regulatory standards as general hospitals is simply untrue. Abortion centers will not necessarily be subject to the licensing requirements or the construction standards of general hospitals.

In Virginia, there are numerous categories of "hospitals," including general (or inpatient), psychiatric, rehabilitation, outpatient surgical and others. Outpatient surgical centers, for example, are a category of hospital, but are not subject to the same regulations as general hospitals.

Similarly, abortion centers will now be subject to regulations specifically tailored to that procedure.

Second, the myth that regulations are automatically unconstitutional is inaccurate. In fact, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, in which Virginia resides, upheld South Carolina abortion center regulations in Greenville Women's Clinic v. Bryant.

Regulations there include licensing requirements, staffing rules, specific drug and equipment availability, safety and emergency policies and sanitation procedures, none of which are currently applied to Virginia's abortion centers.

Third, the myth that the new law will limit abortion access is fallacious. Until 1984, Virginia did regulate abortion centers and, based on the increasing number of abortions at that time, the industry did not suffer.

In addition, considering that Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest private provider of abortion and owner of several Virginia abortion centers, is a $1 billion organization that profited almost $100 million in its last annual report, one would think it could prioritize women's health and spend some of that money on safety and less on political activity.

Finally, the myth that abortion centers are currently regulated is misleading. Abortion centers in Virginia are viewed by the state as physician's offices, which is essentially meaningless in that the state does not inspect or license those offices.

The only standard of care in Virginia requires that abortions done in the first trimester be performed by a licensed physician, but the facilities themselves are not required to meet standards. Currently, doctors' offices in Virginia, and thus abortion centers, do not meet any state-imposed standards of cleanliness, inspections or requirements for life-saving equipment on premises.

Abortion center safety has received increased attention recently due to two unrelated events: a botched abortion originating with New Jersey-based Dr. Steven Brigham and a horror shop abortion center in Philadelphia.

Pro-abortion advocates look at these examples and say, "Tell us of something in Virginia and then maybe we'll listen." The fact is that Brigham, who lost his license because he started late-term abortions at his New Jersey clinics and then drove the patients to Maryland to complete them, owns two abortion centers in Virginia and has no Virginia medical license. (He also is not licensed in Maryland.)

Additionally, Brigham's two Virginia abortion center websites, until exposed by The Family Foundation last month, offered the following surgical abortion procedure: "Surgical abortion patients who are between 14 and 24 weeks pregnant will be referred to our Cheverly [Md.] location after their first appointment for the completion of their procedure."