Around the country, and now in Pennsylvania, politicians are proposing laws aiming to limit access to safe, legal abortion in the name of protecting women's health and safety.
For us - an obstetrician/gynecologist who provides comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care, and an emergency-medicine physician - with 24 years of combined experience, patient safety is our number-one concern. Our patients demand, and deserve, the best possible care that is guided by up-to-date scientific evidence.
That is why we are concerned about Pennsylvania House Bill 1762, a medically unnecessary bill that requires abortion providers to obtain hospital staffing privileges. These types of privileges are a business arrangement and will not improve women's safety. In fact, leading national medical groups oppose this requirement.
Abortion today is extremely safe. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health show that abortion procedures have a safety record of more than 99 percent. Studies show that women experience complications from abortion less than 1 percent of the time.
In 2014, abortion care is also well regulated. At the federal and state levels, there are multiple agencies that oversee and regulate health-care providers. In Pennsylvania alone, there are more than 1,500 pages of regulations for abortion providers. Abortion clinics in our state must maintain transfer agreements with a hospital for the rare instances in which a complication occurs. There, emergency-medicine physicians are trained to handle complications from abortion, just as they are trained to handle complications arising from any other medical procedure.
Simply put, current safety and transfer protocols are working.
The country's leading medical groups, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, oppose these restrictions. These experts agree that there is no medical basis to require abortion providers to have local hospital staffing privileges, as such requirements have no bearing on patient safety.
H.B. 1762 is written by politicians, not medical experts. In other states, legislation like this has forced good health centers to close, taking away women's access to safe medical care. We are concerned that the same could happen in our state, especially in areas where women already have limited access to quality reproductive health-care services.
Ask yourself, who is the most competent to set health-care safety standards - the American Medical Association or politicians? This proposed regulation is politically motivated and aims to make safe, legal abortion difficult, if not impossible, to get.
As doctors who are committed to providing excellent health care for all, we oppose H.B. 1762 and urge elected officials to stop playing politics with women's health. Our patients and all Pennsylvanians deserve better.