Enforce — don’t amend — abortion clinic regulations
Medical complications don’t care about politics
The September meeting of Virginia’s Board of Health on amendments to the governor’s regulation of abortion clinics made my blood run cold.
I was a labor and delivery nurse for 24 years in four hospitals in Connecticut and three in Virginia. When I read the original regulations, I recognized the need for each of the proposed new rules.
Abortion clinics should be required to comply with all the regulations and standards of any other outpatient surgical unit. The Virginia Department of Health should enforce them, not amend them.
The reason is simple: Abortion is surgery, and surgery knows no politics.
Germs don’t know that the Virginia Department of Health has given 13 out of the 18 Virginia abortion clinics a certain span of time, with extensions, to come into compliance with the state regulations. Germs are opportunists. If you have a poorly sanitized facility, lax surgical standards or contaminated surgical instruments, germs will invade. It’s their nature.
If a woman’s body retains the placenta because her hormones didn’t get the memo that the fetus was being surgically removed, she will bleed. If her hemorrhaging cannot be stopped, the body doesn’t know that there were not two units of packed red blood cells typed and cross-matched prior to surgery. It doesn’t know that any blood products are available only through that narrow hall and across town. And the body doesn’t realize that the abortion doctor doesn’t even have admitting privileges at that hospital. The body just bleeds.
Some facts about surgery are universal and simply don’t admit compromise. Microbiology, anatomy, physiology and physics don’t bargain. And in an emergency, when seconds count, built-in problems are the last thing you need. Nature obeys its own laws, whether we like it or not.
The majority of members of the Board of Health seem to have forgotten that. They seemed to ignore or brush aside the more than 400 violations found by their own inspectors, in announced visits, over the past three years.
Why should we not apply and enforce all the safety standards and best-practice regulations levied on every other inpatient and outpatient surgical unit? Whom are we trying to kid? Each of the original regulations was formulated through research, trial-and-error and, as risk-management people tell us, lawsuits.
Virginia owes it to women to make sure all surgical procedures are safe— no matter the politics behind the procedure.
Abortion rights and antiabortion advocates attend a Virginia Board ofHealth meeting in Henrico in April 2013.