Oklahoma House Passes Legislation to Regulate Abortion Providers


The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday aimed at regulating abortion providers. The bill requires that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. 

Lawmakers who voted for the bill say this will help ensure the safety of the woman should any complications occur. However, pro-choice groups are arguing that the new provision places undue burden on the clinic, considering Oklahoma's sparse population. 

In December, Reason TV covered a similar bill regulating abortion clinics in Virginia.

Originally released Dec. 16, 2013. 

The original writeup is below:

Last April, the Virginia Board of Health approved strict new regulations for abortion providers. Unlike most similar laws, the regulations cover not just new facilities but existing ones too. Clinics have until October 2014 to comply, but a high-stakes legal challenge in the Old Dominion may change that early next year.

Senate Bill 924 reclassifies any health clinic that provides five or more first trimester abortions a month as an outpatient surgical center rather than a physician's office, which is the current classification. The law sets standards for the number of parking spaces, width of hallways, size of janitor closets, and more, all which could cost millions of dollars in renovations per facility. Abortion clinics throughout the state have said compliance costs will force many of them to close and two out of 20 abortion clinics have already shut down, citing financial burdens related to the new regs.

In a reversal of conventional positions, SB 924 has political conservatives arguing for increasing regulations on small businesses and liberals arguing against them. The bill initially passed the Democratic-controlled state senate in 2011 by a vote of 20-20 (Lieutenant Gov. Bill Bolling, a pro-life Republican cast the tie-breaking vote). Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell eventually signed it into law after numerous rounds of political back-and-forth. 

Supporters of abortion rights believe that pro-life legislators in Virginia and elsewhere around the country are using retroactive regulations to get around constitutional guarantees to abortion on demand during the first trimester of pregnancy. Defenders of the new regulations say that they are simply protecting the safety of women.

"This is really necessary to ensure that woman are treated with care consistent with their human dignity," says Mallory Quigley of the Susan B. Anthony List (SBL), a pro-life organization. A woman who chooses to have an abortion, says Quigley, should be able to do so without fearing for her health and safety. Quigley and other supporters point to the deplorable conditions in abortion clinics such as the one run by Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia. Gosnell, who ran an operation described as a "horror house," was convicted of murder and other crimes after several patients died at his clinic.

"Physicians that are practicing in Virginia have been outspoken about the lack of medical evidence that is deciding [this legislation]," says Sara Wallace-Keeshen of Falls Church Health Care Center (FCHC). Located in northern Virginia, FCHC has filed an administrative appeal against the new regulations, claiming that renovations would cost the center $2 million and potentially force them out of business. 

FCHC center has had no deaths since opening in 2002, an outcome that is similar to the generally low rate of complications related to abortions performed in clinics. Indeed, since 1974 state data show only three deaths during legal abortions. For first-trimester abortions, the complication rate is 0.3 percent, throwing doubt on the safety argument.

A court date is set for April 2014.

Aprrox. 4 minutes. Produced by Amanda Winkler. Camera by Winkler and Joshua Swain. 

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  1. I look forward to a productive and civil thread.

    1. Well not with that attitude you don’t

    2. I can see that there may be some shenanigans going on here, but don’t “abortion providers” have to be doctors? Who are, of course, already subject to considerable regulation?

      1. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

      2. Not just docs but docs with outlandishly difficult to obtain “admitting privileges”.

      3. That’s not a bad question, and perhaps related is this: those doctors people see that are operate out of their own buildings, do they have ‘admitting privileges’ at hospitals? Anyone here work in the medical field who knows about that?

      4. Well, yeah, but that doesn’t mean any given regulation is reasonable or practical, even judging by the low, low bar set by the body of current regulations.

        Here, admitting privileges require the doctor in question to be on the hospital’s staff, and don’t have any practical effect on whether they can send a patient to the local ER or not. From the term you’d think it was a courtesy arrangement that makes it easier to send a patient to a particular hospital, but modern admitting procedures mean there doesn’t have to be any formal relationship between the doctor and the ER/hospital for that to happen.

      5. In some states, abortion providers don’t have to be doctors. California just passed a law allowing nurse practitioners to perform abortions.

  2. Who said there were no female libertarians?

  3. I believe this is either very necessary to protect the health of women or another salvo in the war on women. Who’s with me?

  4. I can’t help but savor the irony of liberals complaining that onerous government regulation places a burden on individual liberty.

    1. Or that regulation hampers business

  5. While I do derive a certain amount of schadenfreude from them pulling similar kind of shit progressives try with guns (e.g. using the “common sense gun control regulations” and other concern trolling to ban guns), two wrongs don’t make a right.

    1. If I thought somehow that lesson would get across to them it might limit my own schadenfreude, but alas..

  6. Without discussing the relative merits of the arguments, I’m always amazed at how lefties refuse to acknowledge that regulations can ever have negative effects, unless it’s on one of their issues.

  7. Without discussing the relative merits of the arguments, I’m always amazed at how lefties refuse to acknowledge that regulations can ever have negative effects, unless it’s on one of their issues.

  8. Dear Reason staff,

    Couldn’t you cover the Washington state bill (which passed the House but probably won’t pass the Senate) to require insurance to cover abortion?


  9. I love how the anti-abortion groups who say that abortion is murder now claim to suddenly have immense concern about the health and safety of women are soliciting abortion. “If you’re gonna murder your unborn baby, we must make sure you are not harmed in the process!”

    1. That is not the least bit inconsistent. Those socons don’t want fetuses killed at all, and they don’t want mothers harmed in the process if their wishes are overriden and a fetus is killed.

  10. It seems FdA has the ear of the Reason staff.

    1. Reason ate my blockquote!

      Francisco d Anconia|3.1.14 @ 1:26PM

      This is the worst chatroom EVAH!

      This topic is as exciting as watching paint dry. Can’t we get a good abortion or at least a circumcision thread?

      1. Ask and you shall receive. Who says the squirrels and their minions don’t listen to us.

  11. This should ‘rightly’ be a State issue. Leave it alone.

    1. There’s a slight difficulty – returning the matter to the states would require litigation and activism, since the status quo is that the states are highly limited in what they can do with abortion.

      So leaving the issue alone won’t restore state prerogatives at all!

  12. This was a calculated move. Many libertarians may hate conservatives for their social views, but they usually understand business better than their liberal counterparts. They want to increase the cost of business for abortion providers.

  13. FCHC center has had no deaths since opening in 2002, an outcome that is similar to the generally low rate of complications related to abortions performed in clinics.

    I would submit that every successful procedure at the clinic results in a death of a fetus.

    Quite the job of framing the discussion.

    1. Hmm, I think everyone can agree that there were no unintended deaths, so it’s OK.

  14. The Pro Choice side lost this fight when the Kermit Gosnell situation went public and their immediate reaction wasn’t horror and outrage at what had been done nominally in their name. There may be arguments against this round of regulations. They may, in fact, be nothing but attempts to outlaw abortion by stealth. But the argument is lost, for now. The Pro-Choice side needs to get ahead of the curve and start proposing regulations that will prevent another house of horrors while at the same time keep abortion legal and available. Just bitching that their opponents aren’t rolling over and waving their paws in the air won’t cut it.

    Hey, Pro-Choice people! Get. Over. It. The Religious Right did not make up Kermit Gosnell. They didn’t oversee a system of regulation that allowed him to operate something out of a cheap splatter-puck movie. But they are your enemies, and if you don’t stop whining and start looking for your own inadequacies, they are going to take you like Patton took southern France.

    1. “Kermit Gosnell…. is he a frog or something?”

      — 98% of American voters

    2. Gosnell was criminally prosecuted (in what is usually considered a liberal state) and I can’t recall any prominent pro-choice advocates defending Gosnell over the actions he was charged with, so why should they respond at all at this point? This is like liberals saying that the James Byrd murder proves that Texas needs a hate crimes statute when 2 out of the 3 men involved in Byrd’s murder got the death penalty and the third is in prison for the rest of his life.

  15. Live by the regulatory state… die by the regulatory state.

  16. I kind of think this is funny, in a macabre sort of way. Lefties, most of whom support abortion have created rules for virtually every aspect of life. I can’t think of any aspect of life right now that is not rule bound. But, abortion….not so much. No rules, no regs, is best. Liberty for all (that I believe in).

    1. Leftists do recognize a sphere of individual liberty, radius 30 cm centered on the pubic bone.

      1. Only if you are female, and it involves destroying your offspring.

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