As pro-life and pro-choice groups contact their supporters in advance of Friday’s Board of Health hearing on abortion clinic regulations, the results of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request detail 80 citations resulting from Board of Health inspector’s visits to 9 Virginia abortion clinics.
According to Health Commissioner Karen Remley’s report to the Board of Health at its June 2012 meeting, none of the 9 abortion clinics inspected were “deficiency free.”
*Eighteen citations for personnel issues, including no background checks, no ongoing plans for staff training, no maintenance of personnel files, no policy requiring staff to be CPR trained, no policies setting experience and training required to practice
*Thirteen citations for infections prevention issues, including seven clinics with no clear division between clean and dirty utility areas, four centers where personnel weren’t using personal protective equipment and a host of record keeping issues
*Ten citations regarding the administration, storage and dispensing of drugs including four with expired drugs in stock, and others with improper labeling of drugs, no medication dispensing policy
*Ten maintenance of equipment citations including equipment not in good repair and lack of a preventative maintenance plan
*Six citations for local and state building code violations
Health inspection reports revealed that frozen blood and “conception material” had pooled in the bottom of a freezer where the products were stored at one clinic. At another location, cleaning solution was changed less frequently than is recommended and cleaning sponges were only changed weekly.
Victoria Cobb, spokesperson for the Richmond based Family Foundation that requested the documents believes that the credibility of abortion clinic lobbyists seeking to weaken clinic regulations should be evaluated in light of these findings. Cobb noted:
“”Even with time to prepare for announced inspections these centers were found to be what I think most reasonable Virginians would deem unsafe in many cases and utterly disgusting in others.
“The same abortion industry representatives who claim that their centers are safe and healthy want the Board of Health to weaken the safety standards that were recommended by the Department of Health.
“The conditions found in these reports existed as the very representatives of the industry that own and operate abortion centers were testifying to the Board that their facilities are safe. With such disregard for the truth, for the well-being of women, how can its claims of safety be trusted? No longer can the abortion industry claim that it puts women’s health ahead of its profits.”
There’s no denying that abortion is a controversial topic. Yet, regardless of what side of the debate one is on, these findings should be cause for neither glee nor glib dismissal. Pro-life and pro-choice citizens should at least be able to agree that:
* Women considering abortion should be respected and given honest, accurate and comprehensive information.
* Reducing forced, coerced, and otherwise unwanted abortions should be an important public policy priority.
* Women’s safety and health should be a top priority in any surgical procedure, including an abortion.
Unfortunately, we have seen that many of these priorities – shared by pro-life and pro-choice Virginians alike – are spurned by the abortion rights lobby. The abortion industry has fought requirements that women be given the opportunity to view their ultrasound prior to an abortion. They have arrogantly assumed that they should decide what women need to know about abortion risks. And now we learn that they have opposed the most basic of regulatory standards because they simply are not operating in a way that prioritizes women’s health and safety.
Given the citations these nine clinics received and the fact that, as of this summer, eleven more abortion clinics had yet to receive similar inspections, it is imperative that the full scope of regulations intended by the General Assembly be implemented by the Board of Health. It should be apparent to everyone that we can no longer trust the abortion industry to regulate itself.