HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today passed legislation to effectively regulate out of business women's health clinics that provide abortion care. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania denounced the chamber's continuing effort to undermine women's access to reproductive healthcare in the commonwealth.
"The House continues its anti-women agenda," said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "If these regulations survive legal challenge and ever go into effect, there is little doubt that women's health facilities will struggle to comply. And the health of more than 30,000 women who seek abortion care annually will be in danger."
The passage of Senate Bill 732 comes less than 24 hours after the lower chamber passed House Bill 1977, a bill to prohibit insurance coverage of abortion in the exchange created by the federal healthcare reform law.
"Now there is no doubt," Hoover said. "The House believes that it can make better medical decisions from the capitol than women and their doctors can in a healthcare facility."
SB 732 forces women's healthcare clinics that provide abortion care to follow ambulatory surgical facilities (ASF) regulations. ASF regulations were implemented into law years after abortion clinic regulations and are intended for clinics that perform procedures with a higher risk of complications than abortions. The requirements will force clinics to retrofit current facilities or move into new facilities with hospital-grade elevators, bigger operating rooms, parking lots, and driveways fit for an ambulance.
One clinic in western Pennsylvania consulted with an architect who specializes in ASF facilities. The architect recommended that the clinic sell its building and move.
"Burdensome regulations come right out of the playbook of those who think women should have no access to abortion care," Hoover said. "It's a way to undercut women's access to abortion."
Because the House amended SB 732, it must now return to the Senate for a vote on concurrence. Tomorrow is the Senate's final day of session before the winter holidays.