Pregnant women are increasingly turning to a variety of medical clinics to get tested and treated for possible pregnancies, as the state moves to legalize recreational marijuana.
But some of those clinics are not equipped to provide the kind of medical care women need to prevent miscarriages and stillbirths, including at least one that offers abortion services.
The state Department of Health Services is considering changing some of the regulations for the state’s eight licensed abortion providers to make them more compliant with federal regulations, according to an email sent to health care providers on Wednesday.
That would be an update of regulations approved by the U.S. Department of Justice last year that require abortion clinics to meet federal standards.
The state also plans to add a third abortion provider in the state to meet the requirements, the email said.
The Department of Healthcare and Family Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“We are considering this as part of our commitment to ensuring that women and families have access to the full range of care and services available to them through the state and local governments,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Chafee in a statement.
Chafee is one of several officials in Washington pushing for the states new medical marijuana regulations.
The Washington State Department of Liquor Control and Marijuana Control (DLCMCC) said the changes are meant to “ensure that women have access in the event of an abortion to the highest quality and safest available medical care, including abortions.”
The regulations for Planned Parenthood are similar, said the agency’s executive director, Nancy Westlake.
“It’s a common sense approach to protect women and their unborn children,” she said.
“There’s no evidence that these changes would result in more unsafe abortion outcomes or reduce access to abortion services for patients in need.”
The Department of Children and Families has said it will be reviewing the requirements for the abortion providers, including whether there are additional rules or guidelines that can be added to the state regulations, including how many of the clinics would have to have abortion services in addition to abortion.
“If there are changes to the regulations that we think would increase access, we will review those,” said spokesperson Jennifer Doudna.
But the Department of Child and Family Resources said it is not considering changing the regulations.
It said it has a “zero tolerance” policy for abortion clinics that fail to meet certain standards, and has no plans to take further action.