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DHMH Press Releases > Posts > Regulations Proposed for Surgical Abortion Facilities


December 02
Regulations Proposed for Surgical Abortion Facilities

Proposed regulations will protect patient safety while preserving access to services

Department of Health & Mental Hygiene News Release 


BALTIMORE December 2, 2011 –– The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene today released proposed regulations to oversee surgical abortion sites in the State. The proposed regulations, which will be published on January 13, 2012, in the Maryland Register, aim to protect patient safety while preserving patient access to surgical abortion services.

Under the proposed regulations:

  • Outpatient facilities that perform surgical abortions as a regular service on a routine basis, and are not otherwise regulated by the State, will be required to obtain a license.
  • To obtain a license, surgical abortion clinics will have to meet specific requirements related to such matters as anesthesia services, emergency services, laboratory, and radiologic services. These requirements are adapted from regulations governing ambulatory surgical centers.
  • The Department’s staff will be able to enter facilities for the purpose of inspection, and noncompliant facilities may face suspension, revocation of license, and/or administrative penalties.
    The regulatory proposal does not include unnecessary requirements that could substantially limit access to surgical abortion services. For example, the proposal does do not require clinic hallways to measure a specific width. Rather, the proposed regulations require that the environment be safe, functional and sanitary. 

As with other medical procedures, surgical abortions must be performed by a licensed physician. The proposed regulations will supplement existing State regulation of licensed physicians and other health professionals.   

The Department conducted a deliberative and inclusive process to draft the proposed regulations. This process involved reviewing other states’ experiences; consulting with clinical experts in multiple disciplines; meeting with advocacy groups with a range of views; and posting a discussion draft of the regulations on the Department’s website for comment from July 29 through August 19. The Department received more than 60 comments and took them all into consideration in developing this proposal.  

The Department’s authority to regulate surgical abortion sites is set forth in Health General Article, §20-209, Annotated Code of Maryland. The law both limits the State’s authority to interfere with the decision of a woman to terminate a pregnancy, and provides that the State may adopt regulations that are necessary and the least intrusive method to protect the life or health of the woman, and are not inconsistent with established medical practice.  

The proposed regulations will be open for public comment through February 13, 2012. After review and consideration of these comments, the Department will decide how to proceed.  


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