OLR Research Report

February 3, 2005




From: Elizabeth H. Pytka, Legislative Fellow

You asked several questions pertaining to abortion clinics in Connecticut. Answers to your specific questions follow. We have included copies of the relevant state regulations.

How many abortion clinics exist in Connecticut?

Nine abortion clinics are licensed in Connecticut, according to Victoria Carlson, supervising nurse consultant of the Department of Public Health's (DPH) Division of Health Systems Regulation.

What sanitation requirements are in place and what state agency is responsible for oversight?

DPH regulations govern abortion clinic operations. The regulations require the clinic's operation, personnel, sanitation, maintenance, and equipment to be consistent with the national standards of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Conn. Agency Reg. 19a-116-1). These regulations must also assure the health, comfort and safety of patients at all times (Conn. Agency Reg. 19-13-D52).

DPH's Division of Health Systems Regulation is responsible for licensing all outpatient clinics, including abortion clinics.

Must the doctor performing the abortion be a certified OBGYN?

No. The doctor performing the abortion must be a person licensed to practice medicine and surgery in Connecticut (Conn. Agency Reg. 19-13-D54).

What licensing requirements are necessary for staff employees?

Staff employees must complete formal coursework or in-service training in social work, psychology, counseling, nursing, or ministry. Employees who do not have a graduate degree in any of these fields must be supervised by a person with such a degree (Conn. Agency Reg. 19a-116-1).

Are there patient follow-up procedures and if so, are they practiced?

Patient follow-up procedures include consultation for follow-up care, providing information on family planning, furnishing a written discharge summary with a discharge plan (signed by the patient and a licensed or certified health care provider), and providing information regarding access to her medical record (Conn. Agency Reg. 19a-116-1).

According to Carlson of the Division of Health Systems Regulation all follow-up procedures are practiced.

Are patients advised before the abortion about the risks and options to abortion?

Yes. Any woman seeking an abortion receives verification of the diagnosis and duration of the pregnancy, including preoperative history and physical examination, information on and an explanation of the procedure, counseling about her decision, lab tests, preventative therapy if she is at risk for Rh sensitization, and examination of tissue by a pathologist.

After receiving consent for an abortion, the counselor must offer to answer any questions the patient may have concerning the procedure. The counselor or physician must also provide a thorough explanation of the procedures to be performed along with a full description of the discomforts and risks that may accompany or follow the procedure (Conn. Agency Reg. 19a-116-1).

Are there emergency procedures in place in case the surgery goes badly?

Abortion clinics are staffed by physicians and nurses qualified to handle any type of emergency procedure or situation; however, if the staff cannot handle the emergency they call 9-1-1, according to Carlson.

What records are these facilities required to maintain?

The public health commissioner maintains confidential records of abortions for statistical purposes only. These reports specify the date of the abortion, where it was performed, the age of the woman and her town and state of residence, the approximate duration of pregnancy, the method of abortion, an explanation of any complications, and the physician's name and address. These records are destroyed within two years after date of receipt. A fetal death certificate or a fetal birth certificate may also be filed (Conn. Agency Reg. 19-13-D54).

What anesthesia policies are required for the mother and for the fetus being aborted?

According to Carlson, administering anesthesia is a standard operating procedure and abortion clinics are always staffed by anesthetists. An anesthetist is a nurse, technician, or physician who is trained to administer anesthetics.