The state Health Care Authority requires both health centers to submit annual financial reports.
In his letters to the two health centers, Morrisey wrote, "In fact, abortion clinics are neither licensed nor regulated by the state."
According to the National Abortion Federation, abortion services are regulated across the U.S. The clinics must comply with federal and state health and safety regulations, as well as building and fire codes. In addition, doctors, nurses and other staff members who work at abortion clinics are licensed and face disciplinary action if they break rules.
Chapman Pomponio accused Morrisey of starting a "misinformation campaign detrimental to women's health."
"Abortion clinics are regulated as any other medical facility in West Virginia; to claim otherwise is absurd and false," Chapman Pomponio said. "The attorney general should not mislead the people of West Virginia."
In his letters to the Charleston clinics, Morrisey says West Virginia abortion clinic regulation is needed in the wake of the recent murder conviction of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who ran a "house of horrors" abortion clinic in Philadelphia. Gosnell snipped the spines of aborted infants with scissors, according to prosecutors. The grand jury that investigated Gosnell found that Gosnell's crimes could have been prevented if state and city agencies had enforced abortion clinic regulations, according to Morrisey's news release.
Morrisey said he has the authority to review abortion regulations because he's West Virginia's "chief legal officer ... charged with overseeing state legal policy and protecting the public interest." His actions mirror those of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has supported bills to curb abortions by licensing and regulating abortion clinics. Cuccinelli spoke at a Morrisey campaign event last year.
The National Abortion Federation says clinics that provide elective abortions are being targeted with medically unnecessary and politically-motivated state regulations designed to put facilities out of business. The abortion rights group alleges that "Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers," or "TRAP" bills put undue burdens and requirements on abortion clinics that other health clinics don't face. Some of the regulations require specific dimensions for room sizes and hallways, or complex ventilation systems, according to the federation.
"Some mandate the number of water fountains," Chapman Pomponio said. "They impose arbitrary regulations. They want to put more and more burdens on providers in hopes of shutting them down."
In his three-page letter to West Virginia's two abortion clinics, Morrisey asks facility administrators to answer 17 questions by July 1. Among the questions:
• "At what gestational age do you refuse to perform an elective abortion procedure?"
• "What are your policies with respect to informed consent?"
• "How do your physicians determine the type and appropriate amount of anesthesia to administer to each patient?"
• What are your policies should a patient revoke consent at any point before or during the procedure?"
Morrisey said the answers the clinics provide will help him and staff attorneys, who serve as lawyers for state agencies, to "better evaluate the need for regulation."
"We look forward to the clinics' cooperation and assistance in this important endeavor," Morrisey said.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.