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Op-Ed: Medical Experts, Not Politicians, Should Set Abortion Standards

June 12, 2014 — Legislation requiring abortion providers to obtain hospital staffing privileges, such as a Pennsylvania bill (HB 1762), are "medically unnecessary" and "will not improve women's safety," ob-gyn Rebecca Mercier and emergency-medicine physician Ralph Riviello write in a Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece.

Hospital privileges "are a business arrangement," not a safety measure, which is why "leading medical groups, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, ... agree that there is no medical basis" for mandating them, Mercier and Riviello note.

They add that abortion is already well-regulated. In Pennsylvania, where Mercier and Riviello both practice, "there are more than 1,500 pages of regulations for abortion providers," including protocols for "transfer agreements with a hospital for the rare instances in which a complication occurs." "Simply put, current safety and transfer protocols are working," they argue, citing studies that show women "experience complications from abortion less than 1 percent of the time." "Who is the most competent to set health-care safety standards -- the American Medical Association or politicians?" they ask (Mercier/Riviello, Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/11).