House Approves Legislation to Hold Abortion Clinics to the Same Standards as Other Surgical Facilities, Says Baker
Language in the bill mirrors Baker’s House Bill 574 approved by the House earlier this year

HARRISBURG – Legislative language first drafted by Rep. Matt Baker (R-Bradford/Tioga) to protect women’s health by holding abortion clinics to the same licensing regulations as other surgical health care facilities was passed on the floor of the House today in the form of Senate Bill 732.

“When it became clear that Senate Bill 732 would be used to pass meaningful abortion clinic regulation legislation, I amended the bill with my language regarding facility licensure provisions,” said Baker. “This legislation is necessary in order to help prevent the cases of infanticide and murder that recently came to light as having taken place at a Philadelphia abortion clinic.”

As chairman of the House Health Committee, Baker authored legislation (House Bill 574) addressing abortion clinic regulations that passed the House earlier this year. His legislation, which was later amended into Senate Bill 732 with minor revisions, seeks to ensure that patients who use clinics for abortion procedures and other gynecological services are treated by trained personnel in a safe and sanitary manner.

“Without this legislation moving forward and being signed into law, I am concerned the atrocities that transpired at the Philadelphia clinic and the deplorable conditions that have been recently cited by the Department of Health to have occurred at an Allentown clinic will continue to take place at abortion facilities across the state,” said Baker.

The head of the Women’s Medical Society in West Philadelphia, which performed abortion procedures, was charged with eight counts of murder including seven newborns and one woman. It was during the Philadelphia County Investigating Grand Jury that the extent of unsanitary and substandard conditions was revealed. These conditions included having fetal remains scattered throughout the facility, including in cabinets, the basement, a freezer, jars, bags and plastic jugs; cat feces on the stairs; litter boxes in patient rooms and flea-infested cats wandering freely through the facility; linens available to patients were limited to blankets that were only washed once a week; patients expected to await procedures and recover from abortions on blood-stained lounge chairs; surgical abortions performed in blood-stained procedure rooms; and a high school student giving medication to and monitoring abortion patients until the doctor or other staff arrived at the clinic to perform the abortions.

A May 2011 inspection report by the Pennsylvania Department of Health of an abortion clinic called Allentown Medical Services in Lehigh County revealed the following: failure to maintain metal instruments in a sterilized environment; brown debris inside packages of instruments which were deemed sterile and ready for patient use; medical supplies, including uterine catheters, medicines and sterilize instruments which expired in 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2010; lack of patient privacy in recovery rooms and recliners for patients with torn seats; patient-care items which were laundered by staff “every once in a while” in their personal homes; and blood splatter and smear marks on the interior and a thick layer of frozen blood on the bottom of the freezer in the “scrub room.”

“No one should be subjected to the conditions and treatment that have occurred at these facilities,” said Baker. “I am glad we were able to have legislation pass the House that will further protect Pennsylvania women.”

Senate Bill 732 now returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

Baker noted that in addition to Senate Bill 732, House Bill 1977 was also passed by the House this week. This legislation, which he co-sponsored, would explicitly prohibit health insurers participating in any taxpayer-subsidized state health insurance exchanges—an insurance system created under the new federal health care law and currently slated to be operational by 2014—from providing coverage for elective abortions. Twelve other states have already opted out of offering this coverage.

While not prohibiting an individual from purchasing abortion coverage on a separate premium outside the health insurance exchange, the only allowable exceptions under House Bill 1977 include:

• Averting the death of the mother on certification from a physician.

• Rape, when personally reported by the victim to law enforcement with the name of the offender, if known.

• Incest, when personally reported to law enforcement, or, in the case of a minor, to the county child protective service agency with the name of the other party.

As an additional safeguard, House Bill 1977 prohibits health insurance exchanges from excluding coverage for any post-abortion complication, any miscarriage or any complication associated with a miscarriage.

House Bill 1977 now goes to the state Senate for consideration.

State Representative Matt Baker
68th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Tricia Lehman