The reproductive health blog RH Reality Check has released documents from over 30 states revealing that abortion is already heavily monitored and regulated following a congressional inquiry.
The documents include current policies, laws, and regulations of abortion providers and what complaints against providers, if any, the state received and what action was taken. The documents were requested in May by members of the House Judiciary Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee including Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Trent Franks (R-AZ), and Fred Upton (R-MI) among others. The committees contact the Attorney General and Board of Health of each state to see if “state and local governments are being stymied in their efforts to protect the civil rights of newborns and their mothers by legal or financial obstacles that are within the federal government’s power to address.”
RH Reality Check submitted their own request to those contacted asking for whatever documents were sent to Congress. 38 state attorney generals and 31 health departments submitted their responses, and the result is thousands of pages of legislation and regulations that could in some way relate to abortion services – from regulations of ambulatory surgical centers to inspection results to criminal prosecution of women who sought abortion services. RH Reality Check has made all the documents available online in a new database called the State of Abortion.
In an article on the State of Abortion results, the blog writes, “An analysis of these documents shows that congressional Republicans will find no support for their arguments in favor of new restrictions on abortion care in the evidence presented by the states. In particular, to the extent that anti-choice advocates claim that women are being put at risk by abortion services, these documents-from the very state entities charged with overseeing and regulating abortion-show the contrary. They show that abortion in the United States is highly regulated and overwhelmingly safe.”
Kathy Spillar, Executive Vice President of Feminist Majority Foundation, said “We’re waiting for the Republicans in Congress and in Governor’s mansions and state legislatures to admit that they’re wasting tax payer money and time dealing with a problem that doesn’t exist. In addition to showing there’s no need for federal regulation, the report also demonstrates that all the new TRAP laws imposing restrictions that will close many clinics are unnecessary. In July alone, North Carolina, Texas, and Ohio enacted strict regulations that jeopardize most abortion providers in these states and endanger women’s lives. Ambulatory surgical centers, unnecessary. Admitting privileges, unnecessary. Additional reporting procedures, absolutely unnecessary.”
“The anti-choice movement, aided by their legislative allies at the state and federal level, have pushed through medically unnecessary and draconian restrictions on access to safe abortion care,” said Jodi Jacobson, Editor-in-Chief of RH Reality Check. “To justify their efforts, they’ve shamelessly exploited the tragic case of illegal provider Kermit Gosnell and claimed there is a pattern of unsafe, under-regulated providers causing harm to women. But the results of a state-by-state witch hunt conducted by Congressional Republicans actually reveals quite the opposite: State documents reveal that abortion care across the country is not only highly regulated, but overwhelmingly safe. Neither Congress nor state legislatures can provide a shred of evidence to back up their push for further restricting access to safe abortion care.”
Media Resources: RH Reality Check 8/21/2013; State of Abortion 8/19/2013; Feminist Newswire 7/30/2013, 7/18/2013, 7/1/2013