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"TRAP" (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws single out the medical practices of doctors who provide abortions, and impose on them requirements that are different and more burdensome than those imposed on other medical practices. For example, such regulations may require that abortions be performed in far more sophisticated and expensive facilities than are necessary to ensure the provision of safe procedures. Compliance with these physical plant requirements may require extensive renovations or be physically impossible in existing facilities. TRAP laws may also allow unannounced state inspections, even when patients are present. These excessive and unnecessary government regulations – an ever-growing trend among state legislatures – increase the cost and scarcity of abortion services, harming women's health and inhibiting their reproductive choices.
TRAP laws generally fall into one of three categories: health facility licensing schemes, ambulatory surgical center requirements, and hospitalization requirements. A number of states impose more than one of these types of TRAP laws on abortion providers.
TRAP laws have proven extremely difficult to challenge in court. Nonetheless, in a number of cases, the Center has sought creative and compelling ways to fight these laws, and we continue to use litigation as a means of trying to block this growing threat to reproductive rights.