Summary: The Prevent Double Standards in Abortion Regulation Act would prohibit the implementation of laws that single out abortion facilities or personnel for requirements that are more burdensome than those imposed on facilities that provide medically comparable procedures.
Abortion is one of the safest and most common medical procedures in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control found that legal abortion is significantly safer than childbirth, and a study in the American Journal of Public Health reported that first-trimester abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in America. Approximately three in ten women will have an abortion in her lifetime, and will need access to safe, legal facilities to obtain abortion care.
Despite the safety of the procedure, abortion clinics are frequently required to follow burdensome and unnecessary regulations that are actually designed to close those facilities. Currently, 24 states have Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers or “TRAP laws,” designed to close abortion clinics. Most often, the restrictions dictate that abortions be performed at sites that are the functional equivalent of ambulatory surgical centers, or even hospitals, which makes the delivery of health care services prohibitively expensive. Other TRAP laws require clinicians at abortion facilities to have admitting privileges at a local hospital or mandate transfer agreements with hospitals—setting standards that are extremely difficult for providers to meet and effectively giving hospitals veto power over whether an abortion clinic can exist.
TRAP laws have done what their proponents intended—they have closed scores of abortion clinics. In 2015, four states had only one abortion provider, and at least ten states had five or fewer abortion providers. Today, almost 90 percent of U.S. counties have no abortion facility at all.
Leading medical associations oppose TRAP laws as unnecessary and counterproductive. In a court brief opposing the Texas TRAP law that is being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) oppose requiring abortion facilities to meet ambulatory surgical facilities requirements and physicians providing abortion services to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. They explain that such a law “does not serve the health of women…but instead jeopardizes women’s health by restricting access to abortion providers.”
The Prevent Double Standards in Abortion Regulation Act would restore medical standards to abortion law. It would prohibit the implementation of TRAP laws that single out abortion facilities or personnel for requirements that are more burdensome than those imposed on facilities that provide medically comparable procedures.
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE
This Act shall be called the “Prevent Double Standards in Abortion Regulation Act.”
SECTION 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE
(A) FINDINGS—The legislature finds that:
1) Abortion care is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States.
2) Comprehensive reproductive health care, including safe abortion care, is a vital component of a woman’s overall health.
3) Like other medical procedures, the safety of abortion care is secured through evidence-based practices developed and supported by medical professionals.
4) Any regulation of medical care should be carried out in a way that increases, rather than decreases, access and allows for affordable, high quality care in the least complex facility that is medically appropriate.
5) Laws and regulations that place obstacles in the paths of women seeking safe abortion care infringe on a woman’s constitutionally protected capacity to make personal medical decisions and threaten the health and safety of women and families.
6) Major health care organizations, including the American Medical Association and the AmericanCollege of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose medically-unnecessary regulation of abortion facilities.
7) It is therefore the intent of the legislature to ensure that no law jeopardizes women’s health by singling out abortion facilities or personnel for requirements that are more burdensome than those imposed on facilities that provide medically comparable procedures.
(B) PURPOSE—This law is enacted to protect the health and safety of women by blocking the enforcement of laws unjustifiably force clinics to close.
SECTION 3. PREVENTION OF DOUBLE STANDARDS
After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:
(A) DEFINITIONS—In this section:
1) “Department” means [insert appropriate state agency for enforcement].
2) “Medically comparable procedures” means procedures with similar needs regarding the facility setting and personnel. Those needs are based on the procedure’s risks, complexity and duration, including the level and duration of anesthesia or sedation to be used, and the degree of sterile precautions indicated by the nature of the procedure.
3) “Personnel” means an individual providing health care services at an abortion facility, regardless of whether the individual is a contract or full-time employee.
4) “State” means the state of [insert state name] and includes any branch, department, agency, instrumentality, or individual acting under color of law of the state or a subdivision of the state.
[Bill drafting note: Depending on your state’s laws, the term “abortion” may need to be defined, or an existing definition may need to be referenced in this bill.]
(B) CONSISTENCY IN REGULATION
1) The State may not, by law or regulation, impose on a medical facility where abortions are provided or performed requirements that are more burdensome than those imposed on facilities that provide medically comparable procedures, including but not limited to requirements related to the facility’s physical plant, construction or renovations thereof; requirements related to the facility’s equipment, staffing, infection control and sanitation, or medical waste disposal; or the hospital transfer arrangements of such facilities.
2) The State may not, by law or regulation, impose on the personnel of a medical facility where abortions are provided or performed, requirements that are more burdensome than that imposed on the personnel of facilities that provide medically comparable procedures, including but not limited to requirements related to the credentials, hospital privileges, or other arrangements with hospitals of such personnel.
SECTION 4. REPEAL
Section XXX is hereby repealed. [Place here any provisions of existing law that are inconsistent with this Act.]
SECTION 5. EFFECTIVE DATE
This Act shall take effect on XXXX 1, 2016.