Abortion Bill 732 Is Bad Medicine

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 21 | Posted Oct. 26, 2011

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Capitol punishment: Activists recently gathered in Harrisburg to protest against new anti-choice legislation.

Photo by ada kulesza

Journalist Steve Lopez once wrote that Philadelphia is a city without pretense in a state without shame—and that was long before Harrisburg legislators stooped low enough to exploit murdered babies to push a bill into law that would result in what critics call a “back-door ban” on abortion in Pennsylvania.

The murders: Two women and hundreds of babies a grand jury report alleges died inside Kermit Gosnell’s now-shuttered West Philadelphia clinic.

The bill: SB 732, scheduled to hit the House floor since September, will force most, if not all, of the 20 freestanding abortion clinics in Pennsylvania to shut down if it passes without significant revision.

“Senate Bill 732 would simply hold abortion facilities to the same standards and regulations as all other health-care facilities that perform surgeries in Pennsylvania,” wrote Rep. Matt Baker (R-Bradford and Tioga counties), who serves as chairman of the House Health Committee, in a statement released last month. Baker is championing the bill in the House. “Our mothers, daughters and sisters deserve at least that much.”

Baker claims the bill is about medicine. But really, it’s about morality.

SB 732 requires that clinics renovate their buildings to adhere to the architectural codes and staffing requirements of ambulatory surgical facilities (ASF).

These guidelines include renovations that are prohibitively expensive and/or logistically impossible, such as: doubling the square footage of procedure rooms and upgrading to hospital-style elevators.

In addition, new staffing requirements would require an RN in the room any time a patient is present. Most abortion clinics perform abortions one day a week; under new guidelines, clinics would need to pay an RN to be present for family planning services and routine gynecological care.

Pennsylvanians for Choice—a statewide nonprofit coalition of reproductive rights advocates—has concluded that if SB 732 passes, “most, if not all, of the 20 nonhospital-based clinics in Pennsylvania would either have to move or discontinue offering surgical abortion services altogether.”

Tellingly, SB 732 at one point included an amendment that called for a fiscal impact study to determine if it would indeed close clinics in Pennsylvania; the study was hacked out of the bill.

To distract from the real issues, Baker’s rhetoric centers provocatively on murder. “This is about patient safety and preventing future cases of murder and infanticide within abortion clinics,” he wrote.

But architectural renovations at 3801 Lancaster Ave. would not have prevented Gosnell. He didn’t avoid detection because of a lack of laws—homicide, third-trimester abortion and drug trafficking are already illegal. He avoided detection because, as Gov. Corbett wrote in a statement released in the wake of his arrest, the Department of Health and Department of State weren’t doing their jobs. They weren’t applying laws and regulations already on the books .

“This doesn’t even rise to the level of government run amok,” wrote Corbett in a statement in response to the grand jury report. “It was government not running at all.”

Meanwhile, abortion is already a remarkably safe procedure. According to the Department of Health, physicians reported 47 instances of complication out 37,284 abortions performed in 2009—about .1 percent.

SB 732 isn’t about patient safety at all. Critics point out that not one medical association supports it. In a letter of opposition, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists wrote that they “disagree vehemently” with the bill. “These additional requirements do nothing to increase patient safety ... and will serve only to diminish access to quality health care for women of the Commonwealth.”

More telling is the organizations that do support it: the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the Pennsylvania Family Institute and the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. The Catholic Conference calls SB 732 a “significant pro-life proposal.” In a brief about SB 732 on its website, the Family Institute repeats that its mission is to “strengthen families by restoring to public life the traditional, foundational principles and values.”

At least these organizations are straightforward.

Not only is Baker’s rhetoric misleading about the content and expected outcome of SB 732, he’s disingenuous when he points to the Gosnell case as inspiration: The idea of mandating that clinics upgrade to ASF guidelines as a tactic to restrict women’s access to abortion was conceived years before the Gosnell tragedy. It’s ripped, quite literally, from the anti-choice playbook.

In a memo written in August 2007 and obtained by PW, prominent lawyer James Bopp Jr., counsel to National Right to Life since 1978, and Thomas Marzen, a deceased lawyer also well-known in the anti-choice movement, mandated ASF upgrades are listed in bullet points as ways to “advance … pro-life causes.”

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Comments 1 - 21 of 21
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1. Big Larry said... on Oct 26, 2011 at 03:12PM

“"Meanwhile, abortion is already a remarkably safe procedure"

safely terminating a baby is a bit ironic.”

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2. dpezz said... on Oct 26, 2011 at 03:32PM

“"Ironic"??? Please keep comments like that to yourself unless you can speak from some type of experience. If your sister, wife, mother, was raped and became pregnant, should she be forced to have that baby? Whether you approve or not, the procedure still needs to be safe.

This is a serious step backward and does nothing to protect current women's right.”

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3. Kristen said... on Oct 27, 2011 at 01:10AM

“This is disturbing to me, but I'm not surprised that white, upperclass, cisgender, (supposedly) heterosexual males would attempt to once again oppress all, and especially lower class, women. Elevators and an RN in the room while I'm getting an annual exam do not improve my health in any shape or form.

Our legislators need to start listening to constituents instead of continuing to ignore our demands and supporting ONE religious (and mostly non-scientificly based) opinion on social issues. Want to improve the health of women? Give us affordable access to quality healthcare. Stop restricting my rights to my body.”

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4. Maria said... on Oct 27, 2011 at 08:00AM

“I do not know of an industry, other than the abortion industry, which could get away with fighting basic safety standards. The health and safety of women in Pennsylvania require the passage of SB 732.”

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5. gale routh said... on Oct 27, 2011 at 08:46AM

“this is science:
fetus ( NOT A BABY, THEY ARE BORN...GOOGLE THE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT CHART) is a parasite because the classification of the biological relationship that is based on the behavior of one organism (the fetus) and how it relates to the woman's body:

as a zygote, it invaded the woman's uterus using its Trophoblast cells and hijacked her immune system by using Neurokinin B---so her body won't KILL it, and stole her nutrients to survive and causes her harm or potential DEATH!


"it is also possible for a symbiotic relationship to exist between two organisms of the same species."
http://www.answers.com/topic/symbiosis---–Gale's Science of Everyday Things:

"an animal or plant that lives in or on another (the host) from which it obtains nourishment. The host does not benefit from the association and is often harmed by it"

if a man can kill his tapeworm at anytime, so should a woman abort her unwanted human parasitic fetus at anytime, too.”

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6. Bob said... on Oct 27, 2011 at 09:46AM

“@ Gale Routh...
pretty much the most vile explanation of a fetus (human, if you let it come to term) I have ever heard. I guess someone as callous as you spouting your skewed, biased view of science proves the hatred towards life of the liberal mindset. So, according to your definition of parasite, I could use the same justification for terminating the homeless, those on welfare, etc...because they live off of the welfare my taxes provide for them, in essence, hurting my financial well-being.....except there is one difference. A fetus didn't have the choice the mother (usually) has in performing unprotected sex. A large percentage of those on welfare have a choice to make something of themselves, yet choose to stay on as a recipient....everything about your rant is based on a false sense of bloated intellect and "better than thou" mindset.”

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7. Bob said... on Oct 27, 2011 at 10:04AM

I am not for the murder of the homeless and those on welfare, as I justified by using your "SCIENCE".
...Also, I love your fool-proof sources...wikipedia and answers.com. Classic.

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8. Jen said... on Oct 27, 2011 at 11:42AM

“Not one legislator can articulate how more space in an operating room or in the hallways actually makes a patient safer. Excellent article - thank you for pointing out how blatantly anti-abortion and anti-women Matt Baker's agenda is.”

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9. Russ said... on Oct 27, 2011 at 01:51PM

“Having an emergency room for this procedure is NOT a basic safety standard. Getting your wisdom teeth pulled is 100 times more dangerous than getting an abortion because they use anesthesia, yet I don't see everyone up in arms that your dentist has to be emergency room ready. Why aren't you protecting women from going to the dentist? Because it's ludicrous, just like this bill.”

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10. Anonymous said... on Oct 27, 2011 at 11:17PM

“In the case of abortionist, Kermit Gosnell whose clinic was in filthy conditions and who was convicted of murder...

"In the mid-1990s, the administration of Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, ended regular inspections of abortion clinics--a policy that continued until just last year.

According to the grand jury report [2][PDF] released this week by Philadelphia prosecutors, Pennsylvania health officials deliberately chose not to enforce laws to ensure that abortion clinics provide the same level of care as other medical service providers.

Warnings--from patients and their attorneys, a doctor at a Philadelphia hospital, women's health groups, pro-choice groups, and even an employee of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health--failed to prompt state and local authorities to investigate or take action against the clinic."


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11. Anonymous said... on Oct 27, 2011 at 11:19PM

“The grand jury report said that one look at the place would have detected the problems, but the Pennsylvania Department of Health hadn't inspected the place since 1993. Here's the grand jury report, in surprisingly strong language:

"The Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be "putting a barrier up to women" seeking abortions."

That is what this article is claiming. It goes on....

"Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety," the report states. "Without regular inspections, providers like Gosnell continue to operate; unlawful and dangerous third-trimester abortions go undetected; and many women, especially poor women, suffer."

From the same article above.”

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12. Anonymous said... on Oct 27, 2011 at 11:28PM

“"Abortion clinics in Pennsylvania are already heavily regulated. Those with labs on site—most do—must be inspected under the federal Clinical Laboratories Improvement Amendments"

In light of what was found by the grand jury in the Gosnell case (in Pennsylvainia), this article's above statement is inaccurate. Inspections depended on who was in the administration. A law would prevent this inconsistency and by requiring what specifically would have to be done to ensure the safety of women.

This is not about pro-choice or pro-life. It's about women's health in a sanitary, safe environment surrounded by trained professionals who are inspected regularly (like nail clinics--as the grand jury points were more regulated). Shame on this author for putting politics above women's health and safety!”

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13. Tara Murtha said... on Oct 28, 2011 at 09:46AM

“To clarify:

"Pennsylvania health officials deliberately chose not to enforce laws..."

Yes. Laws existed, yet government failed to enforce them. Gosnell was a result of a failure of government to enforce laws/regulations, not a lack of laws/regulations.

After the grand jury report was released, Corbett tightened existing regulations and ordered regular, surprise inspections. No one is against this.

Bill 732 isn't about inspections. It focuses on expensive architectural renovations.

If passed as is, most if not all clinics in PA will close. That would be bad for women's health and safety, particularly poor women.

The decision not to inspect put politics above women's health. So does Bill 732.

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14. Peter North said... on Oct 29, 2011 at 11:56AM

“Murtha, you liberal hack! What does society gain from destroying its future leaders? Nitwit.”

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15. peter north said... on Oct 29, 2011 at 07:39PM

“Poor women need to stop fucking.”

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16. Free American Ciizen said... on Nov 2, 2011 at 05:26AM

“The bumper-sticker mentality of Christian supremacists ignores their own history. They are not "pro-life", as thousands of years of Christian atrocities, forced conversions, torture, genocide, slavery, the Crusades, the Inquisition, hundeds of years of witch-burning, the Holocaust and beyond will attest. This is nothing more than Christian Sharia law being legislated into a secular republic.

To all you "government out of my life" fundamentalist right-wingers: we want you our of our lives. America's freedom started with freedom from delusional religious absolutists like you.”

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17. rogelio said... on Nov 12, 2011 at 01:58AM

“i am a nurse that is adamantly pro-life.

the size of a janitor closet affects the safety of a woman undergoing an abortion HOW?

let's cut the BS.”

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18. Anonymous said... on Dec 14, 2011 at 10:31AM

“I work in the GYN/OBGYN industry and I believe in this bill simply because so much could go wrong, why not have the most qualified medical personnel on staff? As of 2004, the majority of abortions are done by 28 year old women who have never been married, are African American, at 13 weeks of gestation. 74% of abortions as of 2004 are for the following reasons:“having a baby would dramatically change my life” and “I can’t afford a baby now.”

Want to know what's cheaper? Going on the pill, getting a Depo Shot, or keeping your legs closed.”

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19. mrp said... on Dec 22, 2011 at 05:35PM

“gale-may you be stricken with parasites!”

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20. mrp said... on Dec 22, 2011 at 05:38PM

“gale-after you are stricken by parasites, may the only cure be for you to have a child.”

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21. Anonymous said... on Dec 22, 2011 at 06:02PM



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