If it’s Friday, it must be time to talk about another Texas lawsuit over abortion restrictions, and this week’s is something just a little bit different. While previously some providers in Texas sued the state over mandating medically unnecessary hospital admitting privileges, a requirement that is shuttering clinics in rural and conservative areas where hospitals aren’t willing to be associated with abortion, this latest news shows how arbitrary privileges really are.
Two doctors with temporary admitting privileges have had those privileges revoked because the University General Hospital Dallas (UGHD), which offered them temporarily, decided that providing abortions is “disruptive” behavior, despite the fact that the abortions they provide aren’t at the hospital and they have never admitted a patient. The hospital claimed their privileges “damages UGHD’s reputation within the community.”
The doctors are suing for discrimination, as they are being punished for their off the clock activities, which the hospital cannot have control over. “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.” Now, the rescinding of privileges is being blocked by the courts until everyone can straighten out the mess.
Of course, it’s not surprising that the hospitals are using their own whims to end admitting privileges. After all, the politicians are just as whimsical in their own justification for abortion bans. Despite claiming that HB 2′s admitting privileges and clinic regulations were completely necessary in order to keep pregnant people safe, Andrea Grimes notes that the same politicians are now encouraging pregnant people to simply go across the state border to New Mexico for abortions, despite the fact that those doctors aren’t required to have admitting privileges there.
Texas isn’t the only place clinics are disappearing, of course. There is another abortion provider desert, this time in the mountains and upper midwest, one that is 1,200 miles long.
In other news, a big win in North Dakota, where the so-called “heartbeat ban” was declared unconstitutional. The bill, which had been blocked since it passed, would have banned abortion at four weeks post conception or two weeks after a missed period, or potentially sooner. Arkansas has vowed to continue fighting the blockage of its own heartbeat ban, in their case at 12 weeks, regardless.
Despite the fact that heartbeat bans never actually end up becoming enacted law, there’s a faction of the anti-abortion movement that simply can’t stop proposing them, and it’s beginning to make the rest of their movement uncomfortable. Still, it’s not as uncomfortable a discussion as the battle over whether or not rape and incest exceptions should be allowed in abortion legislation, a fight that I once speculated could split the movement in two.
An attempt to codify women’s reproductive rights in Colorado sadly failed this week, but here’s hoping we’ll see more efforts in states across the country. In Tennessee, a fight over a new amendment that would allow the legislature to pass more abortion restrictions by changing the state constitution to make it less favorable to reproductive autonomy is bringing in huge donations — mostly for anti-choice supporters. And in Florida, yet another later abortion ban is being proposed, and Mindy Townsend discusses the legislature’s hypocrisy when it comes to debating controversial social issues.
Speaking of hypocrisy and protecting children, read about the Louisiana bill that will ban anyone affiliated with an abortion provider from distributing literature about any public health issue at any school in the state. Also, one lawmaker wants to make providing drugs to pregnant people a crime that gets an enhanced penalty, like if you sell drugs on a playground.
Finally, in a sign that people really support reproductive rights, more than 10,000 comments were submitted to the West Virginia Attorney General regarding adding additional regulations to the state’s abortion clinics, and about 80 percent of those comments supported abortion rights. No wonder magazines like Cosmopolitan are turning to pro-abortion rights stories in the publications.
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