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U.S. Sens. David Vitter, George Voinovich and Sam Brownback this week introduced the Pregnant Women Health and Safety Act, which would require physicians who perform abortions to hold admitting privileges at a hospital that the physician can travel to in one hour or less under average travel conditions.

“This legislation is so important because it provides common sense qualifications for abortion providers,” said Vitter, the primary author of the bill.

“As with all medical procedures, abortions carry a risk, and doctors who provide them should, at the least, hold admitting privileges at a hospital in close vicinity to the abortion clinic.”

The bill also requires that physicians notify patients as to the location of a hospital where they can receive follow-up care from the physician in the event that complications arise.

Further, the bill requires that any abortion center that receives federal funding be licensed and comply with current requirements relating to ambulatory surgery centers.

The bill also provides that any physician who does not hold clinical privileges may only perform or induce an abortion in order to avert the imminent death of the pregnant woman.

“Patients need to be aware of the possibility of complications arising from abortions,” Vitter said. “This bill requires abortion providers to make sure that a woman is aware of the location of the hospital at which she can receive treatment for any complications. It is time that we took the appropriate steps to provide for the safety of the women who undergo abortions.”

Brownback said, “While we are working toward the day when every unborn child is welcomed and loved, we are unfortunately not there yet. The Pregnant Women Health and Safety Act will provide oversight of the abortion industry, which is badly in need of improved supervision. Too many abortions are performed under unsafe conditions, and too many women’s lives are at risk. As a compassionate society, we must work to ensure that women are adequately cared for.”

“The impetus of this bill stems from the tragic circumstances of so many women who have experienced significant health issues following abortions,” said Vitter.

“Thousands of women have these stories to tell – stories like that of Cynthia Collins, who suffered through a botched abortion at home, after being sent away from an abortion clinic by a doctor who offered no advice, no comfort, and no further care.”

Collins now serves as the executive director of the Crisis Pregnancy Help Center and is the Louisiana state director of Operation Outcry, which provides assistance to women and men who have experienced the trauma caused by abortion.

[1Apr08, D.C.; PharmFacts E-News Update]