- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 27, 2001

A national abortion rights organization yesterday lost its Supreme Court appeal to overturn a voluminous rule book South Carolina imposes on abortion clinics.
The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy in New York (CRLP), representing four doctors and two abortion clinics, claimed that South Carolina's medical, safety and sanitation rules are pointless and unconstitutionally interfere with abortion access by raising its cost.
State officials say the code reflects national standards.
"These reasonable health and safety regulations will continue to stand. South Carolina should be run by South Carolinians, not federal bureaucrats or federal courts," South Carolina Attorney General Charles Condon said.
The high court's refusal to hear the case, issued without comment, does not create new law but leaves standing the 27-page rule book imposed in 1995 on abortion facilities.
The South Carolina Department of Health said yesterday the rules would now go into effect.
The state's rules set standards on record keeping, require patients to be tested for sexually transmitted disease, and establish minimum education levels for sonogram examiners and nursing supervisors. The rules also prescribe control of fire, snow and insects, availability of specific drugs and equipment, laboratory facilities, and access to emergency hospital care.
"The cumulative effect of this regulation seems to be one of the most onerous if not the most onerous in the country, segregating abortion practice from other medical practice," said Elizabeth Cavendish, CRLP's director of legal services.
"It reflects a tactic on the part of anti-choice legislators to try and regulate abortion out of existence," she said of rules that apply to offices performing any abortions in the second trimester and those doing at least five first-trimester abortions per month.
"This regulation does not look to strike at a woman's right to choose whether to have an abortion," the state lawyers argued. "Rather, these regulations look to protect the health of women who seek abortions."
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said last summer in a 2-1 ruling that the state rule book did little more than gather in one place regulations applied nationwide in one form or another.
"The regulation does not strike at the abortion right itself," the court said in reinstating the regulations, reversing a district judge who declared them unconstitutional.
"The increased costs of abortions caused by implementation of the regulation, while speculative, are even yet modest and have not been shown to burden the ability of a woman to make the decision to have an abortion," the appeals court said in the decision the high court left standing yesterday.
In other actions yesterday, the justices:
Refused, at least for now, to consider broader challenges to lawsuits under the Americans With Disabilities Act. They turned away an appeal that would have immunized states from discrimination charges when access is limited to public services, programs or buildings, and refused to hear a second case questioning whether the disabled may be required to pay some government costs for providing accommodation.
Rejected two appeals in a Tennessee death-row case that drew national attention when an appeals court blocked the scheduled Jan. 31 execution of Philip Workman. Workman, 47, was convicted of the 1981 shooting of Memphis police Lt. Ronald Oliver but claims he has evidence to prove he is not guilty.
Accepted for hearing next fall a bank-robbery appeal intended to clarify when a defendant who pleads guilty may have that verdict set aside because a federal judge failed to fully advise him of his rights.

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