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Press Release: USA Today Editorial Board Praises Maryland’s Abortion Safety Regulations

USA Today Editorial Board Praises Maryland’s Abortion Safety Regulations

 

Larry Hogan Refuses to Answer Whether He Would Maintain Maryland’s Current Regulations or Put Abortion Clinics Out of Business

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 10, 2014

 

Contacts: Maryland NOW PAC phone: (410) 347-1455

Sandy Bell, Chair, Maryland NOW PAC sandy.bell@marylandnow.org

Sara Wilkinson, Maryland NOW President sara@marylandnow.org

 

SILVER SPRING, MD – On Wednesday, in a national USA Today editorial condemning newly enforced Texas abortion clinic regulations that use “safety as a pretext to put providers out of business,” Maryland was praised for truly putting women first:

 

If states are really interested in safety, however, they’d look to Maryland for instruction…The changes satisfied abortion foes and advocates alike.

But Maryland’s balanced approach to protecting women’s health and their right to choose is threatened in this year’s election.

 

Nearly a month ago, Maryland NOW PAC asked gubernatorial candidates Larry Hogan, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, and Shawn Quinn to clarify their positions on a range of women’s health policies that our next governor will be forced to address. Regarding Maryland’s abortion clinic regulations, NOW asked, among other things:

 

  1. Will you commit to appoint a secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene that will fairly enforce Maryland’s current licensing procedures for medical professionals and facilities that provide abortion services, including speedy licensing and relicensing?

 

  1. Will you maintain Maryland’s current balanced regulations for Maryland abortion clinics and oppose additional burdensome, excessive regulations on these facilities?”

Only Lt. Governor Brown responded that he would stand up for a woman’s right to choose and her safety.

 

Hogan, who has a 30-year record of opposing abortion even in cases of rape or incest, refused to answer whether he would maintain current regulations. Given his record on this issue, will he follow Texas’ lead and use safety as a pretext to shutter Maryland’s abortion clinics?

 

Maryland women shouldn’t trust Hogan to look out for their health. That’s one reason why Maryland NOW PAC has endorsed Brown for governor.

 

Read USA Today’s full editorial:

 

USA TODAY – Abortion safety as a pretext: Our view
The Editorial Board, October 8, 2014
Last week, Texas became the most populous state where the right to an abortion has become almost meaningless for many women.

States have every obligation to ensure that abortions are performed safely. But when states use safety as a pretext to put providers out of business, they make abortion riskier for all women and deny some a right guaranteed four decades ago.

 

Last week, Texas became the most populous state where the right to an abortion has become almost meaningless for many women. Texas had 41 clinics last year. Today it has eight, after the state imposed onerous regulations that require costly renovations and force providers to affiliate with hospitals.

The impact? Women in parts of the state have to travel as far as 550 miles to the closest provider. For women of means, that’s not an insurmountable obstacle. But it can be one for those with low-wage jobs, no paid sick days, child care issues or transportation problems. With clinics overloaded, more abortions will occur later, when earlier is safer. Women unable to travel might turn to dangerous alternatives.

Since 1973’s Roe v. Wade ruling, abortion foes have been chipping away at its guarantee. Today, clinics are so burdened by restrictions that abortions are hard to obtain in many states and almost impossible to get in some. Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota, for example, are each down to a single clinic.

The latest restrictions sweeping through states where opposition to abortion is strong require that all providers have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and maintain the same hospital-like standards as ambulatory surgery centers. Both sound reasonable on the surface, but a deeper look reveals the real goal: to make clinics so expensive to run, or standards so hard to attain, that clinics shut down.

Supporters of such restrictions claim they’re all about safety. Yet before Texas’ new law, its clinics were already regulated. A federal judge found that abortion was “extremely safe” with low rates of serious complications and “virtually no deaths.”

The new building standards — which mandate hallway widths, the number of parking spaces and the location of janitorial closets — “have such a tangential relationship to patient safety … as to be nearly arbitary,” the judge wrote.

Disreputable abortion providers deserve to be shut down, none more so than Philadelphia’s Kermit Gosnell, found guilty last year of three counts of first-degree murder. The industry itself and some states are guilty of failing to weed out bad actors.

 

If states are really interested in safety, however, they’d look to Maryland for instruction. After a botched abortion nearly killed a woman in 2010, regulators consulted with all sides and drew up new rules. They included some hospital-like requirements, but only those that made sense. Four clinics were shut down, one withdrew and 13 were licensed. The changes satisfied abortion foes and advocates alike.

Federal courts across the country have reached conflicting conclusions on the constitutionality of the Texas-style restrictions. Surely, at least one case is heading to the Supreme Court.

When it arrives, the justices ought to recognize that a right burdened by so many unnecessary obstacles ceases at some point to be a right at all.

 

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