November 13, 2013

New abortion law aims to protect women’s health

Hospital privileges for abortion providers would ensure a standard of care.

Texas’ new pro-life law requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Abortion clinics have sued to block the measure, complaining their doctors can’t get those privileges.

Actually, two-thirds of abortion providers already have hospital privileges, and it is illegal for a hospital to discriminate against a doctor for performing abortions.

Clinics have argued that this provision will require many of them to close. But more than 90 percent of women will still have access to an abortion within 100 miles. Also, there is at least one secular hospital within 30 miles of every abortion clinic.

Hospital credentialing committees interview doctors, require references from other doctors and monitor complication rates. It’s a standard of care for surgeons, and it is troubling that so many abortion providers can’t get past these committees.

Women deserve better.

Dana (not her real name) is a pro-choice Democrat from Dallas who pursued us until we agreed to look into the “creepy” doctor and the shoddy clinic that had left her shaken and fearful for other women.

Despite a string of extreme malpractice cases and formal complaints to the Texas Medical Board, it was not until the doctor lost his hospital privileges for neglecting high-risk pregnancies that the medical board disciplined him.

Joanna, a college student, testified to a legislative committee that her abortion doctor blew in and out of West Texas for a slew of women lined up like meat.

In the rush, she was not warned to empty her bladder, a problem she first learned about when she heard the nurse say, as she lay sedated, that it was going to hurt twice as much and take twice as long to heal.

It did, and she still suffers complications.

Carol testified to being unable to leave the abortion clinic all day, unable to stand or redress without fainting due to blood loss. At closing time, the clinic staff dressed her and sent her home to days of semi-consciousness without even calling to see if she lived.

Malpractice cases, usually quietly settled, tell an even scarier story.

A Dallas woman experienced a staph infection after her abortion doctor failed to remove all the laminaria rods. After appealing in vain to the clinic for more than five months, she saw another doctor who promptly had her admitted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas. The list goes on.

Women who have experienced complications from abortion are often conflicted about their decision and seldom complain publicly. The state demonstrated in the recent bench trial that clinics are underreporting complications. This makes the extra layer of safety that hospital privileges provide vital.

That “creepy” doctor who lost his hospital privileges? He simply closed his ob/gyn practice and expanded his abortion business.

Women deserve better, and hospital admitting privileges are key to ensuring that better is what they get.

Kyleen Wright of Mansfield is president of Texans For Life Coalition. kwright@texlife.com

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