|Action||Regulations for Licensure of Abortion Facilities|
|Comment Period||Ends 3/29/2013|
Dear VA Board of Health Members:
I am a third year medical student at MCV intending to specialize in primary care. I'm writing regarding my disappointment with your decision in September 2012 to uphold the targeted regulations for abortion providers without the existing clinic exception. Access to the full spectrum of non-judgmental, quality health care over a woman’s entire life is something I am passionate about. Reproductive decision-making is a vital part of women – and men’s -
health care. All people should be able to make informed decisions about their own health destinies.
During medical school, we learn the foundations of ethical patient care. One of the principles is patient autonomy - the right of a person of sound mind to make their own medical decisions, free from coercion. Gone are the days of doctors as paternalistic experts who decide without question what will happen to their patients. Now we are partners. Our duty is to provide patients with accurate information and use our knowledge to assist them in deciding the appropriate next
steps, never forgetting their individual goals and values. This is directly contradictory to how the targeted regulations impact our patients.
The regulations for abortion providers law was passed ostensibly to make abortion safer. First-trimester abortion is already one of the safest and most common medical procedures performed. If these regulations were really about providing safer access to health care, the law would include new regulations for clinics that provide other types of services that have a similar level of low risk, such as wisdom teeth extraction and colonoscopies.
The mainstream medical community does not support these regulations. Recall, almost 200 prominent Virginia doctors signed a public letter that appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, uring the BOH to “resist these outside influences and urge the Board to make its decision on the basis of impartial, professional and scientific information… It is about the Virginia Board of Health as an independent, objective, public health advisory group that acts with impartiality in weighing scientific evidence. We must not travel down a dangerous slippery slope where we allow political forces to dictate medical care.”
To the general public as well as the medical profession, it is now clear these regulations are designed to restrict access to abortion by forcing clinics to close or stop providing the procedure. To new physicians training in Virginia, it is frightening to consider practicing in a state where law-makers' views so publicly trump patient autonomy. Whatever our personal feelings on abortion, this decision sends a terrible message to these young doctors, and discourages them from viewing Virginia as a desirable state to establish their medical practice.
Please consider this a respectful but strong message that young physicians and medical students are watching the Board of Health, and we are saddened by this decision.
Victoria D. Powell