Additionally, West Virginia taxpayers pay for some abortions. A 1993 state Supreme Court decision requires the state to cover the expense of an abortion for a poor woman (income up to 150 percent of the poverty level). So the state has a vested interest in how the clinics operate.
In fairness, the pro-choice side has good reason to be wary. If the West Virginia Legislature, which has a large number of pro-life members, began tinkering with abortion clinic standards, it may regulate them right out of business.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
A botched abortion at an unregulated clinic in Maryland led to what the New York Times called "something rare in this era of polarized abortion politics." The Maryland Legislature passed the state's first system of licensing and inspecting clinics that "improved patient safeguards without imposing costly burdens."
The Times says this was accomplished because health officials, clinic managers and medical groups, not politicians, negotiated the rules.
"Maryland took a thoughtful approach that reflects a balance between ensuring access to service, but also protecting the public health," Heather Howard, a former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, told the Times.
West Virginia should consider doing the same.