Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to Assess Abortion Regulations in WV

CHARLESTON * West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has announced that his Office sent letters to two clinics that provide elective abortions in West Virginia to begin assessing abortion regulation in the State.

“Recent events raise significant questions about how abortion clinics are regulated in the Mountain State”, Attorney General Morrisey explained. “Just over a week ago, a lawsuit was filed in Kanawha County on behalf of a woman who alleges a doctor at the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia improperly anesthetized her during a procedure, physically restrained her, ignored her requests to stop, and failed to remove the entire fetus from her uterus. The merits of that lawsuit must still be resolved in court, but it does raises serious questions about how such clinics in West Virginia are inspected and reviewed to ensure patients are safe. These questions are particularly important in light of the conviction last month of Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Pennsylvania for his ‘house of horrors’ abortion clinic”.

Morrisey pointed to a June 10, 2013 story in the Charleston Daily Mail, in which West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources spokeswoman Marsha Dadisman said no specific agency specifically inspects clinics or facilities that perform abortions.

“The State regulates doctors, nurses, dentists, accountants, architects, chiropractors, social workers, real estate appraisers, massage therapists, acupuncturists, barbers, and cosmetologists. But abortion clinics in West Virginia are neither licensed nor regulated by the State”, Morrisey said. “Regardless of one’s position on abortion, the State needs to evaluate this basic fact”.

The letters ask the clinics to provide answers to questions related to: how often the clinics are inspected; the clinics’ understanding of state abortion laws and regulations; whether the clinics have compliance plans outlining best practices to comply with relevant federal, state, and local laws; and whether the clinics have a relationship with the National Abortion Federation, which self-regulates member abortion clinics. The letters also seek specifics about the elective abortion procedures performed at the clinics.

As West Virginia’s chief legal officer, the Attorney General is charged with overseeing State legal policy and protecting the public interest. The answers the clinics provide will help the Attorney General and his staff *who serve as counsel to the State’s existing licensing and regulatory boards* better evaluate the need for regulation.

“We look forward to the clinics’ cooperation and assistance in this important endeavor”, Morrisey said.

The letters ask the clinics to provide written answers by close of business July 1.
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