They are not "clinics" as they are commonly called. Clinics are places you go to get well. Rather, they are abortion centers. Women do not get well at a Planned Parenthood abortion center. In fact, in Virginia, a woman's health may be in danger at an abortion center, as the commonwealth enforces no safety regulations at such facilities. Recent news out of New Jersey and Maryland confirm the danger women face in these unregulated abortion centers. On Wednesday, New Jersey suspended Dr. Steven Brigham's medical license. Dr. Brigham is an abortionist who owns American Women's Services Inc., headquartered in New Jersey, but also operates abortion centers in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Dr. Brigham's manipulation of the system recently came to light (resulting in the suspension of his license) when the uterus and small intestine of one of his clients ruptured during an abortion.

This isn't the first time Dr. Brigham's license has been suspended or revoked. He was cited in two botched abortions in New York — resulting in the revocation of his New York license — and has shady standing in other states.

It was Dr. Brigham's routine to begin third trimester abortions in New Jersey (where third trimester abortions must be done in a hospital) and then caravan with his clients to Maryland (where they can be done in so-called "clinics") where he finished the procedure. In New Jersey, Dr. Brigham had no hospital admitting privileges, no OB/GYN training, and no medical permission to perform third trimester abortions (hence the get-away to Maryland).

However, Dr. Brigham was barred from practicing medicine in Maryland as the result of another botched procedure in the mid-1990s. But never mind about that. It wasn't going to stop him. He simply listed George Shepard, Jr., an 88-year-old disabled physician, as the physician of record to cover for his proceedings in Maryland — a move that is a felony under Maryland law.

Dr. Brigham rationalized his actions, stating that he believed Dr. Shepard was in the office at the time of the abortions. However, Dr. Shepard suffered a stroke some time ago, leaving him incapable of assisting in case of an emergency during Dr. Brigham's risky third trimester abortions. Medically responsible? Not at all.

According to records, Dr. Brigham's clients were not even aware that they would have to travel to Maryland for the completion of their abortions. The abortion industry has proven to be quite profitable for people who, like Dr. Brigham, routinely perform abortions, which likely explains his "creativity."

Is Dr. Brigham the only disreputable abortionist operating in Virginia and neighboring states? It's hard to tell. However, since abortion center reporting and inspections are not required here, unlike at other surgical facilities, it's virtually impossible to know for sure.

If Dr. Brigham had caravanned to Virginia instead of Maryland on this particular occasion, the chances that his client's complications would have been linked to a botched abortion are slim to none. Additionally, no emergency equipment (defibrillator, hemorrhage equipment, etc.) is required at Virginia abortion centers and therefore a Virginia facility may not have had the ability to even save the woman's life.

The health and safety of women demands the arraignment of men like Steven Brigham. Virginians must demand a higher level of professionalism and medical aptitude from abortion providers and facilities. To address this critical issue, The Family Foundation will continue to advocate for increased safety and regulation of abortion centers in Virginia in future General Assembly sessions.