The Alabama Legislature will be in session next week doing what they do best - refighting the Civil War. When that palls they'll refight the Crusades, and no session would be complete without a few salvos from the American Taliban, or "Talibangelists", if you prefer.
This year's offering is HB57, otherwise known as a TRAP Law. TRAP stands for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, and is template legislation [insert state here] available on the internet from groups such as Americans United for Life. The goal of TRAP laws is to regulate abortion clinics out of existence. Since it is illegal for states to circumvent federal law, (federal law 'can neither be nullified openly and directly by state legislators or state executive or judicial officers nor nullified indirectly by them through evasive schemes' - Cooper v. Aaron 1958) they cloak it as well-meaning concern for women's health. It is interesting that this so-called "moral" legislation starts off by violating the spirit of the law and introduces itself with a lie.
Section 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Women's Health and Safety Act."
Legal induced abortion is markedly safer than childbirth. The risk of death associated with childbirth is approximately 14 times higher than that with abortion.
PubMed.gov NIH 2/11/12
According to the CDC, there were 784,507 abortions performed in the US in 2009. Of those, 12 resulted in death. In contrast, deaths per 1,000 American children as a result of vaccination was 7.8.
This is not a top health risk for women, nor even in the top 100 health risks. This is not about "health".
While HB57 pretends to be a groundbreaking achievement in women's health, quite a bit of it has been in force for years. See Chapter 420-5-1 of the Alabama Health Dept. Administrative Code, a chapter devoted solely to "abortion or reproductive health centers".
The new regulations in HB57 are the ones designed to drive the cost of legal abortion beyond the means of low and moderate income women. This, along with the state's ban on abortion coverage in insurance plans, will create insurmountable financial barriers for a good number of people. That is the idea, after all.
This bill is an enormous waste of time and tax money that would be much better spent serving the interests of all the people - by providing and improving services, creating jobs, protecting and enhancing the environment, and in general making Alabama a better place to live - rather than catering to a vociferous minority with a religious agenda.
-the recent Gallup poll on abortion finds that only 20 percent of Americans want abortion made illegal, while 77 percent believe that it should remain legal in all, most or a few circumstances. New York Times 2/6/12
Let us look at a few examples of regulatory duplication (and duplicity) from the bill itself:
(3) Abortion or reproductive health centers are not operated in the same manner as ambulatory surgical treatment centers or physician offices.
Nor are they operated like airports. This is probably because their function differs.
(6) Abortion is a very profitable [and we know the GOP hates a profit] procedure most often engaged in by stand-alone clinics without many of the safeguards found in a traditional physician/patient relationship or other medical care setting.
In 2009, the median charge for a surgical abortion at 10 weeks’ gestation was $470 [Guttmacher Institute, 2009] The average cost of a colonoscopy, without health insurance, is approximately $3,081. [Buzzle]
(a) Only a physician may perform an abortion.
News flash, Mary Sue - only physicians perform these procedures.
(b) During and after an abortion procedure performed at an abortion or reproductive health center, a physician must remain on the premises until all patients are discharged.
They already do. They have to sign the discharge orders.
(c) Every physician referenced in this section shall have staff privileges at an acute care hospital within the same standard metropolitan statistical area [abbrev.]
The current standard is one. As the covering physician, their privileges extend to all the patients.
Section 7. Only a physician may give, sell, dispense, administer, or otherwise prescribe an abortion-inducing drug. [abbrev.]
They already do.
And here is the true, beating heart of HB57:
Section 8. Physicians performing abortion procedures in abortion or reproductive health centers shall conform to the rules for office-based surgery of the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners, shall meet the standards prescribed in the rules for "office-based procedures - moderate sedation/analgesia," [abbrev]
Except that the clinics don't usually provide "moderate sedation" in the medical definition of the term. They generally provide only mild sedation. That distinction is important, because HB57 then uses a standard that assumes four or more heavily-sedated patients at a time to sock clinics with implementation of hospital fire codes that could cost as much as a million dollars to complete.
Section 9. An abortion or reproductive health center shall be classified as ambulatory health care occupancy and shall meet all standards in the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code 2000 [abbrev] Not later than 180 days after the effective date of this act,
Widely adopted, and required in every accredited hospital nationwide, the Life Safety Code is a core document...
Only two states have ever mandated regulations this stringent: Virginia and Missouri. Even in Virginia, where a GOP majority ramrodded these things through, clinics were given two years, not six months, to comply.
That's just a taste of HB57. Where it concerns itself with women's health, the standards are already in place. What is the point of the legislation, then? To impose the will of the few on Alabama, is the answer.
The sponsor of the bill is past childbearing age herself. She is also ALEC's State Chairman for Alabama. I think they chose well. Mary Sue knows how to get things done. While sitting on the Board of Baptist Health Systems, which coincidentally(?) owned a 35% share in Trinity Hospital, McClurkin managed to grandfather in a brand new piece of legislation that allowed Trinity to win its ongoing court case in a dispute with St. Vincent's and Brookwood Hospitals.
Power of prayer, I guess.