Pro-life groups, doctors ask 5th Circuit to uphold Texas law against cut-and-run abortionists

Law requires abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges, requires abortion facilities to meet same safety standards as other surgical centers
Monday, November 10, 2014

Attorney sound bite:  Natalie Decker

NEW ORLEANS – Alliance Defending Freedom and other pro-life organizations and physicians filed a friend-of-the-court brief Monday that urges the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to uphold the remainder of a Texas abortion law, House Bill 2.

The appeals court has already upheld most of the law and is now weighing two provisions that abortionists have challenged: one that protects women against cut-and-run abortionists by requiring all abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital in the event a woman must seek hospital care due to post-abortion complications (a provision the 5th Circuit has previously upheld), and one that requires abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers.

“Texans should have full freedom to prioritize women’s health and safety over the bottom line of abortionists,” said ADF Legal Counsel Natalie Decker. “Like the other provisions of Texas’s law, these requirements are common-sense protections that ensure the maximum amount of safety for women. Abortionists should not be exempt from medical requirements that other doctors are required to follow.”

ADF filed the brief in Whole Woman’s Health v. Lakey together with Life Legal Defense Foundation; Texas Center for Defense of Life; American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Donna Harrison, M.D.; Abby Johnson; And Then There Were None; Carol Everett; and The Heidi Group. Harrison provided substantial assistance in explaining the medical justification for the regulations.

“Texas’s law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital does not unduly restrict the pool of doctors who could provide abortions,” noted LLDF Legal Director Katie Short. “There are thousands of qualified doctors. If abortion facilities feel the pinch of this law, it’s because most qualified doctors don’t want to be abortionists.”

The brief explains that the “focus of the constitutionality [of the law] is on the treatment of women, not on the financial convenience of abortion providers…. Texas, as many other States, has clearly recognized the risks associated with both surgical and medication abortions and has taken steps to regulate these abortions to minimize these known and potential risks and to protect women’s health and safety. Texas now is (and should continue to be) permitted to do so.”

“Documented experiences at abortion facilities in Texas illustrate the legitimacy of Texas’s concerns regarding care for women,” the brief adds. “Inspections of Texas abortion facilities over the past few years have documented numerous deficiencies, including, lack of staff training; lack of sterilization; lack of medical personnel; lack of emergency medication and procedures; expired credentials, equipment, and medication; not following the emergency procedures that did exist; lack of recordkeeping on an otherwise-documented emergency; lack of follow-up with patients; a hole in the middle of an abortion room floor; another hole that ‘had the likelihood to allow rodents to enter the facility’ and ‘puncture the sterilization’ supplies; ‘numerous rusty spots’ on a suction machine which had ‘the likelihood to cause infection’; a total lack of proper medication dispensation; a disconnected defibrillator cable and lack of staff knowledge about how to use it; unidentified liquids in operating rooms; the use of ‘ineffective’-strength sterilization solution; and abortions outside the gestational range…. In this context, the Texas Legislature passed H.B. 2 with the overarching purpose of strengthening existing health and safety regulations for women.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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