New anti-abortion law is unnecessary, restricts access to a safe procedure

(Originally printed on January 21st 2015 in the Independent Florida Alligator opinions section)

Unless you come from Texas, or you keep up with the intricacies of state politics, you probably aren’t aware of the fact that Texas currently only has seven functional abortion clinics. Some people will probably say that seven is plenty, or perhaps too much. Some people might be horrified by the fact that I say there should be and need to be more. Texas is the biggest state in America, and as of 2013, a safe and healthy medical procedure is now likely impossible for many people who don’t have the resources or ability to go to an abortion clinic that could be hundreds of miles away.

However, does that affect us here in Florida, where in my hometown I lived close enough to an abortion clinic to drive by it every time I went downtown? It does.

The reason so many Texas abortion clinics were shut down is the Texas Senate Bill 5, which included new regulations mandating that all abortion clinics in the state meet ambulatory surgical center regulations and for abortion-clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. For many clinics, the expense of adding these regulations was too immense, and many closed almost immediately. Opponents of the bill in Texas at the time declared it created unnecessary regulations intended to reduce access to abortions for citizens. They were right.

Many hospitals are unwilling to give doctors who perform abortions admitting privileges out of fear that their own funding will be cut or because of anti-choice views. And many abortion clinics in the U.S. are small and underfunded. 

Abortion is usually a very safe, non-invasive procedure if done early. With the strides technology has made in the 21st century, it is now possible for an abortion to be entirely non-invasive and not require any inpatient care. Surgical center regulations are less necessary and are simply a gambit by those against abortion to shut down places for women to receive safe medical care.

Abortion clinics in Florida are now in danger of being prescribed the same overreaching regulations designed to restrict access to a safe procedure. On Jan. 8, HB 147 went into the Health Quality Subcommittee. The bill is sponsored by republicans Rep. Walter Bryan Hill, former president of the Northwest Florida Tea Party, and Rep. Scott Plakon. If passed, the bill would require doctors who perform abortions in Florida to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic, effective July 1. Like the law in Texas and similar anti-abortion legislation in Louisiana and Oklahoma, the initiative is part of TRAP — Target Regulation of Abortion Providers…

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