Aleteia

Need an Abortion? Here is a Robe and Warm Tea

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Abortion clinics seek to de-stigmatize procedure through creature comforts

Can abortion clinics de-stigmatize the procedure by offering tea and bathrobes to clients, installing natural wood floors, and advertising its services without apology? One clinic in the Washington, D.C. suburbs plans to do just that, according to The Washington Post.

Reporter Sandhya Somashekhar wrote about an abortion clinic that opens up this week:
 

With its natural wood floors and plush upholstery, Carafem aims to feel more like a spa than a medical clinic. But the slick ads set to go up in Metro stations across the Washington region leave nothing to doubt: “Abortion. Yeah, we do that.”

 

The Maryland clinic, opening this week in Montgomery County’s tony Friendship Heights area, specializes in the abortion pill. The advertising reflects its unabashed approach — and a new push to de-stigmatize the nation’s most controversial medical procedure by talking about it openly and unapologetically.

 

… At Carafem, staff members plan to greet clients with warm teas, comfortable robes and a matter-of-fact attitude.

“We don’t want to talk in hushed tones,” said Carafem President Christopher Purdy. “We use the A-word.”

 
Somashekhar writes that the clinic’s new strategy seeks to address both Americans’ moral qualms about abortion and cultural liberals’ belief that terminating a pregnancy should be viewed as a common and insignificant procedure.

The reporter did not mention that the Maryland clinic may be responding to anticipated legal challenges too. In nearby Virginia, clinics have closed after the state approved rules that require them to upgrade their facilities. As reporter Samantha Lachman of the Huffington Post noted last month,
 

The saga over Virginia’s regulations of abortion clinics continued Thursday as the Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates passed a budget amendment that would block the state board of health from implementing any changes to the rules.

 

The amendment, introduced by Del. Bob Marshall (R), was aimed at halting Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) push to ease existing regulations on abortion clinics. Advocates for abortion rights often refer to those rules as TRAP laws, or targeted regulations of abortion providers.

When Republican Robert McDonnell, McAuliffe’s predecessor, was governor, the state board of health passed regulations requiring clinics to meet the same physical building standards as ambulatory surgical centers, incorporating specific ventilation systems, parking lot designs, hallway widths and covered entrances. Virginia’s health commissioner at the time resigned in protest over the rules, which critics said were too expensive and unnecessarily restrictive.

 

In May 2014, McAuliffe ordered a review of the regulations. By that point, five clinics had already been forced to close because of the prohibitive cost of complying with the rules.

 

In October, the state’s health commissioner said the regulations should be amended. In December, the health board, with new McAuliffe appointees, voted to begin revising the regulations on the argument that they’re medically unnecessary.