Understanding Abortion Clinics and Regulations
Many people interested in learning more about abortion may want to know some basic facts about abortion clinics and procedures. An abortion clinic is a medical facility that’s main purpose is to perform abortions. These clinics may either be public medical centers or private practices and can vary greatly, depending on their location and population.
An abortion clinic will generally have a range of medical professionals, from doctors and nurses, to medical technicians and general staff. A women considering an abortion is seen by a healthcare provider during an initial consultation and is responsible for discussing all of the options available to the woman, including not having an abortion. This doctor will discuss a medical history and have any laboratory tests done before making recommendations for each individual case. There will also be a physical exam which may include an ultrasound. Since there are multiple options for cessation of pregnancy, regulations for abortion clinics must ensure that there is minimal risk to the woman by taking certain steps and procedures before having an abortion.
Abortion clinics are regulated by a variety of healthcare and work site regulations. These state and federal laws are responsible for ensuring qualified staff and healthcare providers are present. The major regulations in place at abortion clinics are CLIA, HIPAAA, and OSHA requirements. Additionally, there may be increased regulations that vary from state to state, depending on the laws that have been enacted in that area.
Many states have increased regulations for abortion clinics. The Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) bill is designed to regulate clinics on a state-to-state basis. (Resource: http://www.teenbreaks.com/abortion/abortionhome.cfm 2013) They provide regulations in a few key areas. One area is generally personnel qualifications and building requirements. Another area is ensuring that abortion clinics are registered specifically with the state as an abortion provider. A third and final area of regulation is regulating specific clinics where abortions may be provided. This area gives each abortion clinic a specific designation to ensure clarity and specificity. These TRAP bills are present in many states and the strength of their regulations vary from state to state. Anyone interested in learning more about regulations in a specific area can view these online.
Additionally, regulations for all healthcare providers and abortion clinics require that medical professionals employed maintain professional standards and licenses and also complete continuing medical education courses. This is a standard for all healthcare workers including physicians and clinicians. Each medical personnel employed at these sites is required to be registered with their nation and statewide organization. For example, a nurse working at an abortion clinic is required to keep up with licensing requirements and be certified as a registered nurse with the state and federal nursing association. This requirement is shared by all healthcare professionals, and each individual must be registered in their area.
The National Abortion Federation is the professional association of abortion providers and can be used by anyone to view a profile of their physician before having an abortion performed. This organization has established policy guidelines that are designed to ensure certain standards for abortion providers. Anyone interested in viewing these guidelines can see the entire evidence-based Clinical Policy Guidelines on the NAF website.
There have also been professional guidelines established by organizations linked to abortion clinics and providers. Planned Parenthood of America and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have established professional guidelines for abortion clinics. These are standards of care that are held by physicians and healthcare providers at clinics which perform or specialize in the varying options for abortions.
There are also certain guidelines which may restrict abortion clinics from performing certain services to women. Most abortion clinics are allowed to perform in-clinic abortions as well as provide a medical abortion, the abortion pill. Depending on the state, an abortion clinic may not be allowed to perform an abortion after the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy. The National Abortion Foundation does provide information about late-term abortion procedures and clinics that are regulated to perform these procedures. In some cases, a woman may not be able to have an abortion at a private clinic and instead, have the procedure done in a hospital setting.
These are the major functions of an abortion clinic and the regulations required for each clinic. For a more thorough understanding of regulations and services, view specific regulations and requirements in each state.