Senate Committee Approves New, Ridiculous Standards That Could Shut Down Most Abortion Clinics In Texas

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Texas' Senate Health and Human Services committee approved another measure late yesterday straight out of the anti-abortion playbook: a bill that would require all medical facilities that perform abortions to meet the standards of an "ambulatory surgical center." Opponents of the bill are calling it a "back-door abortion ban," mostly because that's what it is.

The bill, SB 537, was written by medical doctor, evangelical Christian and zealous anti-abortion activist Bob Deuell, who's supported virtually every piece of anti-abortion legislation offered over the last decade. If signed into law, SB 537 would mandate that "the minimum standards for an abortion facility must be equivalent to the minimum standards adopted under for ambulatory surgical centers." Only six abortion facilities in Texas are currently licensed as ASCs.

Supporters of the bill argue that the new regulations would make abortions safer. "I make no secret that I don't think abortion should be legal, but I also face the reality that they are," said Deuell himself, according to the Texas Observer. "And given that fact, I think that we should take all precautions to make sure that abortion, which is a surgical procedure, is done to the highest standard possible."

So what does "higher standards" mean in this case? The answer: wider hallways, a guaranteed square footage per operating room, and replacing the ventilation systems in abortion-providing facilities with other, more expensive ventilation systems, among other things. What does any of that have to do with abortion, which is, the vast majority of the time, an outpatient procedure? Nothing. And that's the point.

Bills like SB 537 have a name; they're called TRAP (Targeted Regulations of Abortion Provider) bills. They are, according to the Guttmacher Institute, "stringent regulations that affect only surgical and medication abortion providers, but not other providers of outpatient surgical and medical care." TRAP laws are nothing new; the Center for Reproductive Rights wrote about them back in 2007, warning that these "excessive and unnecessary government regulations" would "increase the cost and scarcity of abortion services, harming women's health and inhibiting their reproductive choices."

TRAP is a strategy that's gaining speed, for the simple reason that it's easier than trying to ban abortion outright. According to CRR, 17 states proposed some type of TRAP law last year. Americans United for Life, the architect of much of the anti-abortion legislation in the United States, has a model ambulatory surgical center bill; they call it the "Abortion Patients' Enhanced Safety Act."

The idea here is to make the bar so high that abortion providers can't possibly reach it without incredibly expensive and onerous (not to mention unnecessary) modifications to their clinics. In Texas, the requirements for ASCs run to 117 pages, according to The Dallas Morning News. And even facilities that only provide abortion pills would have to meet those surgical standards.

As it stands, according to Guttmacher, fewer than 0.3 percent of abortion patients experience a complication that requires them to be hospitalized, a fact that Bob Deuell studiously ignored throughout yesterday's hearing. And if you happen to point out that operating room square footage and backup generators do nothing to make abortion even safer, Deuell falls back on faux-outrage.

"My intent is to protect women," he said yesterday, according to the DMN. State Senator Donna Campbell, another doctor/legislator/anti-abortion zealot who's supporting the bill, chimed in that she expects "every woman to be on board." The bill moves now to the full Senate, where it's sure to be a big hit.


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77 comments
mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

okey dokey, if it is all about "the highest standard possible" to protect patients, it would be fair to require all facilities who perform prostate screening to adhere to the same standards.

Dianna Orender
Dianna Orender

If you are that anti-abortion, then I hope you're super-duper pro-free birth control. That's the best cure for abortion there could possibly be. The rest is just slut shaming.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

ooh a bigger room and better HVAC, now Im for sure abortion is safe...gag me.  you are most likely better off at an abortion clinic than Parkland

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

4/5 Vaginas today Anna, you got 26 comments b4 I even realized this was up so obviously you struck a chord here.  Well done!  now to see if I can to the comment count

Don North
Don North

By ridiculous you mean life saving standards for the patients and critical over time saving of the innocents? It's not anti-abortion liberal news media outlet pundit it's right to life, get you're propaganda at least politically correct --but yes Cory one step and one victory at a time

Ambelleina Warwillow
Ambelleina Warwillow

"Even facilities that only provide abortion pills would have to meet those surgical standards." Seriously? Sigh.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

We must do away with all state abortion laws.  A federal law covering a woman's reproductive rights is the only way to deal with fascist republican state legislatures.

roo_ster
roo_ster

>They are, according to the Guttmacher Institute, "stringent regulations that affect only surgical and medication abortion providers, but not other providers of outpatient surgical and medical care." <

Except that this is bullshinola.  The regs in question already exist and are applied to ASCs.  I wonder of the author of this posting read her own words?



>TRAP laws are nothing new; the Center for Reproductive Rights wrote about them back in 2007, warning that these "excessive and unnecessary government regulations" would "increase the cost and scarcity of abortion services, harming women's health and inhibiting their reproductive choices." <

The only case where lefties want free markets unfettered by gov't intervention is in the baby-killing market.

Also, filing this under the heading "war on women" is incorrect, since those opposed to killing babies are also opposed to killing the girl babies.

rbtxcat75
rbtxcat75

Apparently asking for standards in the abortion industry is a bad thing?  A set of standards are a part of everything we do in life.  We ask for standards in the quality of our food, housing and working conditions.  But God forbid that we ask those same standards of an abortion facility.  They are essentially asking for the same set of standards as every medical facility in Texas.  Damn those people!  Texas had over 82K abortions back in 2006 (only stats I saw available).  To ask abortion facilities to have the same standards as an outpatient surgery center is not too much to ask in my opinion.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Approximately 81,000 abortions in Texas each year.  At .3%, that means that 240 women had complications that required hospitalization.  That's the problem with liberal policies -- math is unforgiving.

http://statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?ind=463&cat=10&rgn=45

So, I suppose opposition to this law should be labeled as "240 women dying a year is a small price to pay for cheap abortion."

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Funny, you say this for an unenumerated right but I am certain that you would be all for more regulation of the enumerated right to bear arms.

MisterMean
MisterMean

@roo_sterI @everlastingphelps guess it is a person just as long as your not getting sued:   %s


observist
observist topcommenter

@roo_ster  So, if your daughter was raped and impregnated, you think she should be forced to give birth the rapist's progeny?  The "gift of life" indeed.  And of course you'd be happy to help her raise little Rapist Jr., right?

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@roo_ster Is a 6-week-old embryo a "baby"? Please stop using your fundy groupthink propaganda to make it sound as if these clinics are delivering babies and tossing them into a meat grinder.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@rbtxcat75 thought you were for smaller less intrusive gov't.  I believe gov't should legalize guns, drugs, abortion, gay marriage, gambling and prostitution.  I think we should have national healthcare, though I don't have a problem with how abortion has been handled.  You're really for bigger gov't in supporting these laws, cause these stink of a "bill of attainder" and paying taxes for gov'ts stupid advocacy and legal costs thereof. 

moiv.tx
moiv.tx

@rbtxcat75

It isn't as though providers of abortion care were not already highly regulated in Texas. These are the current rules governing all licensed abortion facilities, and they are strictly enforced.

 http://info.sos.state.tx.us/pls/pub/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=5&ti=25&pt=1&ch=139&sch=D&rl=Y"

Until now, Sen. Deuell and his anti-choice homies have considered them to be perfectly satisfactory. But please do look them over and identify any shortcomings that possibly could affect patient safety.


casiepierce
casiepierce

@rbtxcat75 I think an "outpatient surgery center" and an Ambulatory Surgical Center are two different things. Not all outpatient centers are ASC's and this bill aims to make ONLY abortion clinics adhere to the ACS's standards. At least that's how I read this.

moiv.tx
moiv.tx

@everlastingphelps Your numbers are out of date. Last year Texas doctors performed about 72,000 abortion procedures. That aside, complications only rarely require hospitalization, and equating even a complication requiring hospitalization with death is clumsily and crassly dishonest. 

casiepierce
casiepierce

@everlastingphelps Hum, isn't that place off Greenvile at Royal where the abortion protesters are every Friday attached to a hospital?

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@everlastingphelps And how exactly will having more square footage and an improved ventilation aid women who have abortion complications? Does the bill also require they have a trauma unit in the facility? If not, either way, the women would likely need to be transported to an emergency care center.

rbtxcat75
rbtxcat75

@everlastingphelps Was wondering if that was a total US number or just Texas.  Equates to 3,600 complications nationwide if that is the case.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

@everlastingphelps Awfully liberal on your assertion that all 240 women died. 

I'm willing to bet there's more than 240 breast augmentation complications in Texas per year. Perhaps the state should regulate if and when women can get their boobs done.

There's a fair amount of logic to the bill, I'll agree, if you look at it from a purely medically-safe point of view and throw out the fact that it's just trying to roadblock a procedure that is still very legal despite a vocal minority having huge problems with it. Too bad I can't ignore that part.

MisterMean
MisterMean

@everlastingphelps @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz The GOP-party of rape and death.  Wonder why they (Taliban-Republicans) do not move off to Iran where they would fit in?   Oh yea the guns -got to have the guns for killing and intimidating others.  Pakistan then-the tribal areas where they love guns.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@everlastingphelps I try not to bare my arms these days.  I need to lose weight.  I started dancercising and the cats are completely mystified.  Except for Big Kitty.  She just hrumphs, does a dramatic 180, lifts her tail, revealing ass, then trundles out of the room.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@observist @roo_ster The child committed no crime worthy of death.

I would take a substantive hand in raising any grandchild.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@scottindallas @rbtxcat75 You are a hypocrite.  If you want the government regulating healthcare, then things like abortion that EVERYONE wants regulated should be at the top of the list.  Abortion should be a shining example of how your Utopia would work, and instead it's a disgusting abattoir where the inmates run the asylum.

But then, I guess you accidentally made it an example of your Utopia after all, didn't you?

rbtxcat75
rbtxcat75

@scottindallas @rbtxcat75I definitely wouldn’t categorize healthcare standards and “big government” as the same thing.We have traffic laws, is that considered “big government” intruding in on us?I think you are making quite a leap there.Without some type of standards, this is no regulation on the industry.The same folks that don’t want the government intrusion on this issue are the same that push for the government to force more regulations on the oil industry (IE – Keystone pipeline, BP oil spill).I think we can both agree that if we have a set of standards in any industry that is better for everybody.Asking an abortion facility (which performs surgery) to meet the same standards as any other outpatient facility shouldn’t cause such an uproar.

russell.allison1
russell.allison1

@casiepierce @rbtxcat75 Am I wrong that an abortion is an invasive, outpatient medical procedure, similar in nature to say, an arthroscopic knee surgery or carpal tunnel?  I know that the procedures are vastly different but I just assumed that the facilities that performed both were already held to the same standards. 

rbtxcat75
rbtxcat75

@casiepierce @rbtxcat75 in the language of the bill, "an abortion facility has to have the same standards as an ACS facility.  By definition, an ACS and outpatient facility are exactly the same thing.

ftp://ftp.legis.state.tx.us/bills/83R/billtext/html/senate_bills/SB00500_SB00599/SB00537I.htm

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @everlastingphelps The square footage is about having the room to get a gurney in if they have to transported to a full-blown hospital.  (At least one of the women who died at the Gosnell clinic died in part because the paramedics who were finally called didn't have room get get the gurney in, and had to carry her down stairs and through cramped hallways.)  The ventilation system is about preventing respiratory diseases and airborne pathogens from being grown in the vents.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@Scruffygeist Oh, and god forbid we should make a medical decision from a medical safety point of view rather than political bias.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@Scruffygeist They do regulate boob jobs.  You have to be in a facility with at least ASC standards (Hospital, OSC, ASC).

Just like what is being proposed here.

MisterMean
MisterMean

I am reminded of the CPAC 2013.  I am reminded about the Republican 2012 presidential primary debates.  The banner of the tea party is the "don't tread on me" rattle snake.  How do you deal with a rattle snake?   You can't make friends with it or appease it.   This is the GOP.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @scottindallas @rbtxcat75 no, I want a single payer, I want us all in to the insurance system, we're all in one system anyway, the Medicare system.  Everything else is noise and waste.  No, regulation doesn't mean you get between the doctor and patient, that's a professional relationship.  Insurance or gov't invariably have their influence, might as well have one system, and have a system that we have some recourse over.  Most don't really get to choose their insurance, their employers do that.  So, they're just stuck, and have no real options.  

You should save the same disdain for pot smokers, gamblers, fornicators and those who consort with whores.  That's our condition, it makes the world go round, and all this madness IS our reality.  You're the one who has some artificial utopian, one size fits all solution.  But, nothing, NOTHING in this existence is that simple, totally good or bad.  It just is. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@rbtxcat75 @scottindallas it's important to control for externalities.  If you want to ignore them, you get to clean them up anyway.  So, best to keep the firms on watch.  These are utilities, and due to their scale, and in-elasticity, they aren't like other businesses.  Oil exploration is more a free market exercise, but refining, and transport through gov't granted easements are special privileges, and those come with special responsibility. 

rbtxcat75
rbtxcat75

@scottindallas @rbtxcat75 @russell.allison1 @casiepierce Dumb comparison.  Where are those procedures taken place?  In a facility that can handle any resulting circumstance that can happen.  Below are the standards that are included in the bill:

  • 1)  the construction and design, including plumbing, heating, lighting, ventilation, and other design standards  necessary to ensure the health and safety of patients;
  • (2)  the qualifications of the professional staff and other personnel;
  • (3)  the equipment essential to the health and welfare  of the patients;
  • (4)  the sanitary and hygienic conditions within the  center and its surroundings;  and
  • (5)  a quality assurance program for patient care.

If these are the standards that are going to shut down so many clinics, then that is pretty sad.  Don't think these 5 points ask much at all. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@russell.allison1 @casiepierce @rbtxcat75 no, one involved cutting through strata and layers of sheathing in the knee.  Abortion simply scrapes the uterine wall.  Is having a tooth pulled "invasive" just like having your tonsils/adenoids removed

observist
observist topcommenter

@casiepierce

Planned Parenthood: Surgical Health Services of North Texas, Inc - Dallas 7424 Greenville Ave #211a, Dallas, TX

casiepierce
casiepierce

@observist @casiepierce @everlastingphelps I thought PP was at Park and Central, across from Presby at least that's where I remember the sign being.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @everlastingphelps nor are many of the complications likely emergency situations.  They may have a low grade infection that they want to monitor for 24 hours, that was a death on one Phelps post.  The "trauma" of abortion is almost entirely due to the abortion protesters. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin @everlastingphelps @CogitoErgoSum True.  But a woman going through the emotional trauma of getting an abortion likely isn't at her most cautious.  Add in that women are often pressured into it (and in a clinic as bad as Gosnell's, violently forced into it) and it becomes a general problem.

Again, the libertarian argument of "the state has no business in my medical decisions" is valid if you apply it evenly.  When you only apply it to abortion, you are a disgusting hypocrite.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @CogitoErgoSum That makes sense. This is not a terrible idea, in theory. I do object to rendering these standards mandatory to clinics that only offer chemical abortion treatment. I would imagine that these are not the source of the .3% of complications that apparently occur while the patient is at the clinic.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@observist @roo_ster @Edward @everlastingphelps @Scruffygeist Three biological propositions uncontroversial among scientists due to empirical evidence, but not accepted by the left:

1. That there are biological differences between the various races. 

2. That a biological explanation is not to be had for most complex human behavior.  

3. That evolution, assuming it is true, is ongoing and did not stop at some convenient point in the past.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @Daniel @Scruffygeist comparing abortions to boob jobs means you're not, you're making false analogies.  One involves cutting the body open, abortions don't, they D&C the cervix and scrape the uterine wall. 

Daniel
Daniel

@everlastingphelps @Daniel @Scruffygeist Calling  your argument "disingenuous" is ad hominem? I don't see how.

As for "concern trolling," I'm referring to Bob Deuell himself. This proposal probably doesn't become law, but it gets a lot of attention and creates a ruckus, while Deuell claims all the while that he's only interested in women's health. (!) If that's not concern trolling, I don't know what is.

Daniel
Daniel

@everlastingphelps @Scruffygeist Disingenuous, some? This proposal is politically motivated from top to bottom, and you know it. I believe the internet term is "concern trolling."

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

@everlastingphelps If I believed that was the only motivation behind this bill I wouldn't have issue with it. Like I said, it makes certain sense. But the fact that it helps to restrict a procedure that the sponsors are very, very against? Color me suspicious at the true motivation.

Especially when a facility that prescribes the morning-after pill is held to the same standards.

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