HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Planned Parenthood has been asked to provide information about its physicians' admitting privileges at Pennsylvania hospitals — privileges required in other states that have sparked lawsuits and closed abortion clinics — but a Pennsylvania Department of Health spokeswoman said Wednesday the request was a mistake.
Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Meghan Roach said its three Pennsylvania affiliates were asked for the information over the past two days. Planned Parenthood operates 10 abortion clinics in Pennsylvania and has not been asked for the information in the past, Roach said.
Health Department spokeswoman Aimee Tysarczyk said the department had not asked employees to seek the information. In an email, she wrote: "In this instance, the department's intent was not to ask for physician admitting privileges information; however, an employee proactively did so without receiving directive to do so."
She said the department is not interested in the information about physicians and has discussed the matter with the employee. Tysarczyk declined to reveal the employee's identity.
Roach said that she was relieved with the department's explanation and that Planned Parenthood has a great working relationship with the department. But she also took aim at legislation that is pending in the state House of Representatives to require abortion clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals. She said the true intent of the bill is to decrease access to women's health care.
"As we've seen in other states, these proposed regulations are not supported by the medical community and are driven by misguided politicians," she said.
Admitting privileges laws have passed in 10 other states, although judges have put laws on hold in five states while they decide legal challenges. Supporters of the laws say it is a way to protect women; critics say it is designed to make it impossible for abortion clinics and doctors who work there to perform abortions.
Roach said a 2011 Pennsylvania law requires abortion clinics to either have a transfer agreement with a nearby hospital or admitting privileges. Planned Parenthood clinics have transfer agreements, she said. Abortion clinics had a 99.6 percent safety record last year, Roach added, citing state health records.
The Pennsylvania bill would make it a third-degree misdemeanor for a physician to perform an abortion without privileges at a hospital that offers obstetrical or gynecological care within 30 miles. The bill has bipartisan sponsorship, but has not emerged from the House Judiciary Committee.