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Senator Hughes An informational update for you!

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Senator Vincent Hughes Senator Hughes makes Floor Remarks Objecting to Blocking Women's Access to Health Care (SB 732)
June 14, 2011: Senator Hughes makes Floor Remarks Objecting to Blocking Women's Access to Health Care (SB 732)

Senate Bill 732, which passed the Senate on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, was in response to the atrocities committed by Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the physician who was being investigated by the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration for the illegal trafficking of prescription drugs, and was found to have been committing back alley-like abortions and other bad medical care in a horrific environment, mostly on low income women. His case has been covered internationally, and a very detailed grand jury report has been released, which discusses his actions in great detail. Dr. Gosnell is currently being prosecuted for murder and other crimes in the Philadelphia court system.

The problem that now exists is the problem that many of us feared - there has been a legislative over-reaction to Dr. Gosnell's behavior. While the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the City of Philadelphia have both admitted fault in their respective lack of oversight of Dr. Gosnell's medical practice and both have taken administrative steps to correct that lack of oversight, state legislators and senators have used this crime to introduce measurers that essentially make it more difficult for women to receive the appropriate medical care, especially in reproductive health care services and in abortions.

Simply put, the amended version of SB 732 requires that clinics providing abortion services take up a new standard of operation and procedure that make it prohibitive for them to continue operating. Among other items, SB 732 requires these facilities to:

  • construct procedure rooms which are 250 sq. feet; 150 feet is ample room to fit a gurney in the event of a medical emergency
  • meet the 3,500 commercial weight requirement of a hospital grade elevator
  • have a full time registered nurse present regardless of whether procedures are being performed (presently physicians perform procedures and oversee medical staff; license practical nurses or registered nurses are called in on a case by case basis for procedure days)
  • go through a zoning procedure to acquire the appropriate zoning designation to operate as an ambulatory surgical facilities, ASF, in some cases
  • make provision of parking spaces with a covered entry from the parking lot
  • Legal Barriers to Second-Trimester Abortion Provision and Public Health Consequences
    - Bonnie Scott Jones, JD, and Tracy A. Weitz, PhD, MPA

    The 1992 US Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v Casey set a new standard for the regulation of abortion, making restrictions allowable as long as they do not place an ‘‘undue burden’’ on
    women.1 In response to this decision, states have passed more than 500 laws restricting access to abortions.

    » Read More

    alter ventilation, heating and cooling and plumbing systems, which are equivalent to a hospital surgical suite
  • spend potentially $1 million per facility to meet ASF standards

Similar legislation became law in Texas and Mississippi, and ultimately forced these types of facilities to close. Specifically, the following occurred when the legislation took effect:

  1. The only outpatient provider in Mississippi had to turn away 600-700 abortion patients during the 18 months it took to come into compliance with the new regulations.
  2. Upon passage of the legislation, no existing outpatient provider in Texas could comply and all 20 providers stopped performing procedures after 16 weeks gestation.
  3. The cost of compliance in Texas for one provider was estimated to be $750,000.
  4. The cost of procedures in Texas increased from $200 to $1,000 per procedure.

The projection is that the same will happen in PA, and that almost all of the 22 facilities will be forced to close their doors. It should be noted that these facilities provide much more than abortion services. They provide other, vital medical services such as pap smears, breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings and contraceptive counseling. As many of these health care facilities provide services to low-income women, they also are first points of contact for other medical issues for which women seek care.

The Gosnell story reminded us that no matter where you stand on the abortion issue, women have every right to access safe, excellent health services, no matter what their income level is. So for those who say that this legislation is about the safety of women, nothing could be further from the truth.

» Read Daily News' John Baer's perspective.

Offices of State Senator Vincent Hughes



4950 Parkside Avenue | Suite 300
Philadelphia, PA 19131
Phone: 215.879.7777
Fax: 215.879.7778

Senate Box 203007
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3007
Phone: 717.787.7112
Fax: 717.772.0579