Texas Senate panel passes restriction on abortion doctors

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

AUSTIN -- Doctors who perform abortions would be required to have privileges at a nearby hospital under a proposal approved Tuesday by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

The measure is one of many efforts by conservative lawmakers to reduce the number of abortions performed in Texas. A similar plan was part of an array of laws that ultimately led the last abortion clinic in Mississippi to shut down.

Gov. Rick Perry has pledged to support any legislation that would end abortions in Texas, and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst promised last week to pass major anti-abortion legislation this year.

State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Galveston, said his bill was intended to increase the safety of women undergoing abortions by requiring any doctor who performs surgical abortions, or induces abortions with medications, to have privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.

Merrylynn Gerstenschlager, vice president of the Texas Eagle Forum, was among several abortion opponents to support the measure.

"It will prevent hit-and-run abortions in Texas," she said. "If the doctor is not competent to obtain hospital privileges, then he is not competent to perform abortions."

But Stacy Wilson, representing the Texas Hospital Association, said that thousands of good doctors do not need hospital privileges to provide outpatient care and said the requirement "is not, in our opinion, an appropriate way to achieve these goals."

"Requiring hospitals to credential and grant privileges to doctors who provide outpatient services is time-consuming and expensive for the hospital," she said. She said hospitals are ready to accept patients who suffer complications from any procedure, regardless of whether their doctor has privileges.

Blake Rocap, representing abortion rights group NARAL-Texas, said the law would set an arbitrary bar to a woman's access to healthcare.

Many hospitals affiliated with religious organizations are the only facilities available in parts of the state, and they do not grant privileges to doctors who perform abortions.

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?