HARTFORD – The Connecticut Catholic Conference has reported that abortion providers continue to fail to give key information to the state Department of Public Health and that the state’s incorrect classification of surgical abortion facilities results in fewer health inspections and lower standards than other surgical centers have.
The findings are two concerns highlighted in “The State of Abortion in Connecticut” report prepared by the bishops’ public policy watchdog agency. The eighth report of its kind, it also found a slight uptick in the number of abortions performed in 2014 over 2013, although the number still represents a 27 percent decline from the 14,534 abortions performed in 2007.
In addition, abortions involving minors (under 18) in Connecticut have declined by 65 percent since 2007, when 1,168 teens had abortions.
“It would be nice if there were zero abortions, but it’s important to be a realist when we’re dealing with this situation,” said Michael C. Culhane, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference. “[It’s] important to get the word out to the people of Connecticut and let them know what the figures are.”
Abortion providers are required to submit reports within seven days of the abortion. Mr. Culhane said that in 2008, the conference pointed out to the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) that some providers’ reports lacked critical information regarding the age of the woman receiving the abortion and the gestational age of the child being aborted.
“Every provider should know this information prior to performing an abortion to ensure that proper medical care is given and that mandatory reporting requirements concerning the sexual assault of minors can be met,” the report explains.
Although the number of providers whose reports are incomplete has dropped from more than 1,500 to 343, it went back up to 395 last year.
The report recommends that the Connecticut General Assembly require a penalty to be imposed upon abortion providers who, after being notified of a previous violation, continue to file incomplete reports.
“We sent the report to the 187 legislators and [we hope to] have them read it and if it piques their interest, they say, ‘Why?’ or, ‘How is this happening?’” said Mr. Culhane.
The state has two types of abortion clinics: surgical and those offering drug-induced abortions. The report points out that because the state’s five surgical abortion clinics are classified as family planning outpatient clinics, they are exempt from the stricter inspection and facility requirements that outpatient surgical facilities receive. Surgical abortion clinics are inspected once every four years, while outpatient surgical facilities are inspected every two years.
Prior to 2004, all abortion clinics were inspected every two years. When the regulations changed, the surgical abortion clinics were grouped with the more than 300 other schoolbased and community outpatient clinics rather than with the outpatient surgical facilities.
“Surgical abortion clinics appear to meet the definition of ‘outpatient surgical facility’ contained in State law, but are still treated as regular outpatient clinics,” the report says.
It recommends that lawmakers and the DPH ensure that surgical abortion clinics are inspected and licensed every two years as outpatient surgical facilities.
“When you’re dealing with the health of the mother, the health of the woman, you want to make sure that everything is up to snuff,” said Mr. Culhane.
Ironically, the report points out, fertility centers, in which the focus is on the implantation of human life, are licensed as outpatient surgical centers.
The five clinics offering full surgical abortion services are Planned Parenthood facilities in New Haven, Norwich, West Hartford and Stamford and the Hartford GYN Center in Hartford.
Planned Parenthood facilities in 13 other cities or towns offer medical (drug-induced) abortions or referrals.
The Connecticut Catholic Conferences uses data obtained from reports by the DPH to compile its annual report.
The full report can be viewed at: visit http://www.ctcatholic.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2015-Abortion-Report.pdf