HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday striking down restrictive abortion regulations in Texas prompted a Pennsylvania state senator to announce he will seek repeal of a 2011 law that imposed expensive facility and staff expansions on clinics that perform abortions in the state.
Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, said in a memo to fellow lawmakers that repealing the four-year-old law would bring Pennsylvania into compliance with the requirements and limitations of the U.S. Constitution.
Pennsylvania’s abortion laws, Leach said, “are forcing women and their families into desperate, life-threatening situations in which they must choose between the law, their health and their Constitutional rights.”
The high court struck down Texas’ 2013 law and follow-up regulations that, in part, required clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery. It is similar to Pennsylvania’s 2011 law, Leach said.
Republican lawyers in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives were studying the high court ruling on Monday, but did not think Pennsylvania’s law was similar to Texas’ law or rendered unconstitutional by the court’s action, House GOP spokesman Stephen Miskin said.
That law, signed by former Gov. Tom Corbett, required freestanding clinics that perform abortions to comply with the same safety standards as freestanding outpatient surgery centers. The law required wider hallways and doorways, bigger operating rooms, new HVAC systems, full-time nurses, new ceiling tiles and other standards that cost millions of dollars, clinic operators say.
The state Department of Health has been unable to say how many clinics shut down because of the 2011 law. Clinic operators have said that at least one in Chester, and possibly another in Pittsburgh, shut down because of the law. The one in Chester later reopened after a larger chain of women’s health centers took over the license and reopened it.
Before the law passed, Pennsylvania had 24 licensed abortion clinics. It now has 19, according to a list maintained on the department’s website.
Eleven of the state’s existing clinics provide medication abortion or surgical abortions that only use topical or local anesthesia, said Susan Frietsche of the Women’s Law Project. The other eight can provide surgical abortions using moderate sedation or a higher level of anesthesia, Frietsche said.
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)