Abortion Clinic May Face Council Regulation

By Christy Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 25, 2007

Manassas's only abortion clinic is in the City Council's crosshairs.

The council passed a resolution Tuesday that would create a committee to study what regulations and guidelines any clinic providing abortions in the city operate under and determine "if more stringent guidelines are necessary," said council member Marc T. Aveni (R), the resolution's author.

There is only one clinic in the city where abortions are available. Amethyst Health Center for Women, near Prince William Hospital, has been open for 18 years.

"The focus of this is to look at the health and safety requirements being done in this facility. Are there any? My understanding is there are none," said Aveni, who listed inspections, cleanliness, after-care, hospital privileges and procedures done on minors as some of the issues he is concerned with.

"I am just astonished," said Elizabeth VanDerWoude, owner of the clinic. "It is above the law. I mean, who made them so holy? What right have they to put regulations on the clinic while I am complying with everything and above what they ask from me?"

Virginia requires a woman to wait 24 hours after an initial appointment before she can have an abortion procedure. Virginia also requires parental or a legal custodian's permission before an abortion is performed on a minor.

In addition to federal standards, medical clinics and doctors must follow regulations and professional conduct requirements of the state's Board of Medicine and the Department of Health Professionals. Physicians who perform abortions are required to maintain professional standards and licenses.

Speaking to the council Tuesday, Sue Fleming of Manassas called abortions "a violent and deadly" procedure and said she was concerned the clinic was performing late-term abortions and conducting the procedure on minors.

"Abortions don't really have boundaries, and I know a lot of Prince William women come to Manassas to have their babies killed," said Barbara Dodge, a Prince William County resident. Dodge said veterinarians have more regulations that these clinics and urged the council to make a "Godly decision."

The Amethyst Health Center provides surgical and medical abortion services in addition to gynecological services and is a member of the National Abortion Federation, which makes unannounced inspections, VanDerWoude said.

The federation requires its members to follow clinical guidelines that specify who can perform an abortion, how anesthesia is used and what post-operative care is provided.

VanDerWoude said there are three physicians licensed in obstetrics and gynecology who perform the abortions and provide other medical services at her clinic.

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