State Law Approaches to Facility Regulation of Abortion and Other Office Interventions

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Abstract

Objectives

To compare the prevalence and characteristics of facility laws governing abortion provision specifically (targeted regulation of abortion providers [TRAP] laws); office-based surgeries, procedures, sedation or anesthesia (office interventions) generally (OBS laws); and other procedures specifically.

Methods

We conducted cross-sectional legal assessments of state facility laws for office interventions in effect as of August 1, 2016. We coded characteristics for each law and compared characteristics across categories of laws.

Results

TRAP laws (n = 55; in 34 states) were more prevalent than OBS laws (n = 25; in 25 states) or laws targeting other procedures (n = 1; in 1 state). TRAP laws often regulated facilities that would not be regulated under OBS laws (e.g., all TRAP laws, but only 2 OBS laws, applied regardless of sedation or anesthesia used). TRAP laws imposed more numerous and more stringent requirements than OBS laws.

Conclusions

Many states regulate abortion-providing facilities differently, and more stringently, than facilities providing other office interventions. The Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt casts doubt on the legitimacy of that differential treatment.

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