Health

Texas Abortion Doctors Sue Hospital to Allow Them to Admit Patients

| by Allison Geller

A new Texas lawsuit over reproductive rights contends that a hospital violated doctors' rights to admit patients to hospitals following an abortion.

Dr. Lamar Robinson and Dr. Jasbir Ahluwalia perform abortions away from their hospitals, on their own time. According to a Texas law approved last summer, they should have the right to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles of where they perform the procedures.

University General Hospital of Dallas granted both doctors admitting privileges. A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the new state rules requiring admitting privileges constitutional, but four days later, the doctors had their admitting privileges revoked. They are suing the hospital to have them restored.

In general, admitting privileges represent an emergency situation in which a woman receiving an abortion needs urgent treatment. In Texas, doctors who perform abortions are the only ones who are required to have special “admitting privileges,” which opponents, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians, claim do not further a woman’s safety.

The doctors cite Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in their suit, who wrote in a court briefing defending the new law that, “Not only does Texas law expressly prohibit hospitals from discriminating against doctors who perform abortions, it also confers a private right of action on victims of this unlawful discrimination.”

Out of 37 total abortion clinics in the state, 16 immediately closed after the strict new rules were pt in place because their doctors did not have admitting privileges. Five had reopened.

"Discriminating against qualified doctors simply because they provide abortions not only violates the law, it also plays right into the hands of politicians who are laser focused on ending access to abortion," said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "Major medical groups recognize that these laws don’t improve women’s safety. They’re designed to shut down clinics, plain and simple."

Meanwhile, a judge has ruled to temporarily reinstate the doctors’ admitting privileges while the suit is pending.

Sources: Associated Press (2), ACLU, Dallas Morning News