30-mile rule

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The 30-mile rule is the following regulation against abortion first passed in 2005 in Missouri: "Any physician performing or inducing an abortion who does not have clinical privileges at a hospital which offers obstetrical or gynecological care located within thirty miles of the location at which the abortion is performed or induced shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor, and, upon conviction shall be punished as provided by law." § 188.080 R.S.Mo. (2005)

Missouri's bill closed 1 of only 3 remaining abortion clinics within 60 days of passage. Planned Parenthood even backed off its legal challenge in order to avoid a bad precedent for it. Missouri's bill is perfectly constitutional and Roe v. Wade says nothing to invalidate it. In fact, there is language in Roe v. Wade supporting this bill: "The [state's] interest obviously extends at least to the performing physician and his staff, to the availability of after-care, and to adequate provision for any complication or emergency that might arise."

In 2012 Tennessee passed a weaker form of this bill, known as the "Life Defense Act" (HB 3808), which became effective July 1, 2012 and then resulted in the closing of at least one abortion clinic:

(1) A physician may not perform an abortion unless the physician has admitting privileges at a hospital licensed under title 68 that is located:
(A) In the county in which the abortion is performed; or
(B) In a county adjacent to the county in which the abortion is performed.[1]

(2) The physician who performs an abortion or a health care provider licensed pursuant to title 63 under the supervision of the physician shall notify the patient of the location of the hospital at which the physician has privileges and where the patient my receive follow-up care by the physician if complications arise.

Only one other state -- Mississippi -- has passed a meaningful version of this bill: Miss. H.B. 1390, but it is currently enjoined by a federal court ruling from enforcement. On April 16, 2012, the Governor signed into law this requirement that abortions only be performed by an abortionist who has privileges at a local hospital, which would enable him to handle complications:

All physicians associated with the abortion facility must have admitting privileges at a local hospital and staff privileges to replace local hospital on-staff physicians. All physicians associated with an abortion facility must be board certified or eligible in obstetrics and gynecology, and a staff member trained in CPR shall always be present at the abortion facility when it is open.

Unsuccessful examples

Other states have passed ineffective forms of this law, or not passed them at all. Florida passed a diluted version of this bill, which was introduced in 2005 as H.B. 1041. In 2006 these additional states had pending versions of this rule requiring an abortionist to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital (which many abortionists lack, and end up dumping emergency victims on other doctors), but liberal opposition prevented these bills from passing in a meaningful form:


  1. There are 95 counties in Tennessee, and most counties are adjacent to several other counties. It's unlikely an women suffering from complications would go to an adjacent county for treatment, unless she lived near a border.