According to a Letter to the Editor published in recent weeks, House Bill 3156, would impose extensive and unnecessary regulations on reproductive health care clinics, increasing the regulatory cost to the State of Illinois Department of Public Health as well as costs to medical providers and their patients, according to the Letter to the Editor submitted by Bernard J. Turnock, clinical professor and director, UIC School of Public Health, Chicago.
Tragically, this bill would produce no benefits to women's safety or public health, but would only further reduce access to abortion care -- a consequence which would have a deleterious impact on women's health. This bill should not be enacted into law.
Proponents of this bill wrongly claim that HB 3156 is needed because abortion clinics in the state are not properly regulated due to a loophole in existing laws. This claim is simply not accurate.
As Director of IDPH from 1985-1990, I oversaw the creation of a rigorous and extensive set of regulations tailored to ensure women's health and safety at abortion clinics. This regulatory system was set up in response to federal court decisions that declared an interlocking set of Illinois laws unconstitutional because the laws singled out abortion providers for a discriminatory and burdensome level of regulation. As part of the Ragsdale v. Turnock settlement process, which restored the authority of the IDPH to regulate abortion providers, a new regulatory system was created by IDPH and approved by the courts and the Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Regulations. These regulations, based on scientific evidence and the best practices recognized by medical and health organizations across the United States, were specially tailored to assure the safe provision of outpatient abortion services. For more than two decades, IDPH has enforced this regulatory system -- which is extensive and effective – and which has worked to protect public safety. I am not aware of problems in the current regulatory system that would warrant the changes proposed by HB 3156.
Assuring the health and safety of patients is an important, critical function for any regulatory body, including those within the State of Illinois. Making changes to a carefully crafted system of regulation ought to be considered only after examining that system and identifying shortcomings that are a threat to patient safety and well-being. House Bill 3156 appears to be driven by considerations other than health as its enactment would hurt, not help, public health in Illinois.