States' Laws May Thin out Abortion Clinics; New Rules Make Business Tough

Article excerpt

Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

While much of the national abortion debate has focused on late-term abortions, pro-life forces are scoring major victories with new laws and regulations that in effect would force many - if not all - abortion clinics in a state to shut down.

This battle over clinic regulations shifted into high gear in Texas on Monday as state lawmakers moved closer to passing a bill that advocates on both sides say would force all but a handful of the state's 67 abortion providers to close.

In a report released Monday, the Guttmacher Institute said that states' efforts to restrict abortion - including clinic regulations - were on pace to exceed those enacted in 2012. The institute also reported that there were nearly 3,000 U.S. abortion providers in the early 1990s and fewer than 1,800 providers since 2008.

Abortion rights supporters say regulations, many passed in states where Republicans dominate the legislatures, are not-too-subtle efforts to drive clinics out of business and deny women their rights to abortion, even while allowing abortion to remain nominally legal on the books. Techniques include raising treatment standards clinics must meet, blocking relationships with public hospitals and banning online technology that enables abortion doctors to treat patients in remote locations.

Extremist politicians made a blatant attempt to shutter the Red River Women's Clinic, the sole abortion provider in North Dakota, with a law that would require the clinic's doctors to unnecessarily have admitting privileges at a local hospital, said the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is planning to block the law in state court this summer. Pro-choice activists call these measures targeted restriction of abortion providers (TRAP) laws.

Pro-life groups counter that in the wake of the May murder conviction of abortionist Kermit Gosnell - his inner-city Philadelphia house of horrors clinic operated for years under lax state rules and oversight - it is imperative that state officials step up their oversight of the abortion industry and leading practitioners such as Planned Parenthood.

The taxpayer-funded abortion Goliath, Planned Parenthood, is trying to take over with its extreme agenda that is out of touch with Texas - and American - values. We are in Austin to tell them the eyes of Texas, and America, are upon you. You won't get away with subverting the democratic process to protect Gosnells in Texas - or anywhere, Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said Monday.

Every U.S. state still has at least one abortion provider, according to the Guttmacher Institute, but in 87 percent of U.S. counties, there are no doctors, hospitals or clinics that offer abortion services. Lone clinics in Mississippi and North Dakota are fighting to survive TRAP laws, pro-choice advocates say.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, signed a bill that included a provision blocking public hospitals from entering into written agreements to accept emergency patients from ambulatory surgical centers that perform abortions. …