Imagine walking into an abortion clinic and finding fetal remains stored in the same refrigerator as food; a dead rodent in the hallway; overflowing, uncovered disposal bins containing medical waste; unlabeled, pre-drawn syringes with controlled substances in an unlocked refrigerator; improperly labeled and expired medicines; carpeted floor in the surgical procedure room; and visible dirt and general disarray throughout the clinic. These are the conditions state inspectors found in one Kansas abortion clinic, but sadly the conditions at this clinic are not an aberration nor are they confined to Kansas.
Then imagine being a state official advocating that, in the interest of women’s health and safety, that abortion clinics be subjected to medically-appropriate regulation, but drawing the hyperbolic criticism of state and national abortion advocates for your efforts. That is exactly what is happening in Virginia where Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has issued a legal opinion that simply states the obvious: the state health department has the legal authority to regulate abortion facilities. Now the important question becomes how best to regulate.
For the last 10 years, AUL has worked to remedy the epidemic of substandard conditions at the nation’s abortion clinics, advocating for medically-appropriate and comprehensive health and safety regulations at abortion clinics and defending such laws when they are challenged in court by abortion providers more concerned with plying their trade without legitimate oversight and protecting their “bottom-line” than with women’s health and safety.
Enacting comprehensive abortion clinic regulations is a critical and sensible solution to the problem of unsafe, “back-alley” abortions in America. These regulations are designed to safeguard against unsanitary conditions, inferior equipment, and the employment of unsuitable and untrained personnel. They are also intended to put an end to substandard medical practices that injure and kill untold numbers of women each year. In response, AUL has developed both “The Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act,” mandating that abortion clinics meet the same exacting standards as ambulatory surgical clinics, and “The Women’s Health Protection Act,” prescribing minimum health and safety regulations (based, in part, on internal – but not mandatory — treatment protocols from Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation.)