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TRAP Laws, including Admitting Privileges

Many state laws single out abortion facilities for targeted regulations, which are often referred to as “targeted regulation of abortion provider” or TRAP laws. TRAP laws require abortion-providing facilities to follow more requirements and stricter requirements than facilities providing other medical procedures.  Examples of TRAP laws include those requiring abortions to be performed in Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) and laws requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. Admitting privilege laws require abortion-providing clinicians to have “admitting privileges,” or the right to admit patients at a specific hospitals close to where the abortion was provided. ANSIRH studies show that these laws are unnecessary and do not impact the safety of care a patient receives. Instead, they reduce access to abortion services for patients. 

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Over the last four decades, states have enacted TRAP laws targeting facilities in which abortions are performed. These laws may impose requirements regarding licensing, accreditation, physical plant, and/or operations. These laws do not align abortion provision with existing healthcare standards, but instead go beyond the standards for other health care facilities, despite the lack of any evidence they create safety-related benefits. 

Several states have laws that require abortion facilities to meet the standards of Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASC). Our research found no differences in patient safety between abortions in ASCs versus in office-based settings. We also found that the cost of having an abortion in an ASC is higher than having an abortion in an office-based setting. Ultimately, laws requiring abortions to be provided in ASCs increase patient costs, without improving patient safety.

ANSIRH research also shows that admitting privileges are unnecessary and do not impact the pathway to hospital-based care a patient receives. In fact, it can be very difficult for providers to get these privileges. Some hospitals, for example, won’t grant them to abortion providers for religious or political reasons. Due to these challenges, these laws can actually lead to clinics being closed. The Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana state law requiring admitting privileges in 2020, but some states still have laws on the books requiring them.