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Doctors Speak Out Over Miss. Admitting Privileges Law

Doctors Speak Out Over Miss. Admitting Privileges Law

May 1, 2014 — Doctors are criticizing a Mississippi law (HB 1390) that threatens to close the state's only abortion clinic, which they say could endanger women's health, MedPage Today's "The Gupta Guide" reports (Wickline, "The Gupta Guide," MedPage Today, 4/29).

The Mississippi law requires that physicians performing abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday heard oral arguments over the constitutionality of the law, which, if implemented, would shut down the state's one abortion clinic, Jackson Women's Health Organization (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/29).

Doctors and Physician Groups Comment

Physician Lin-Fan Wang, a reproductive health advocacy fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health, said that "if the only clinic that performs abortions in Mississippi does end up shutting down, that means that women in Mississippi won't be able to access a safe and legal medical service that we should be able to have."

Wang added, "The more barriers there are to abortion services, the more desperate women become, and they may pursue desperate measures." She said the law would be particularly difficult on low-income women and women of color, who already face many barriers to health care.

Physician Antoinette Danvers, a family planning fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, added that the law could also force women to delay abortion care while they "save up money," which could push the procedure into the second trimester, "when it is a more difficult operation."

Meanwhile, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that while all medical providers -- including abortion providers -- should have "a plan to ensure prompt emergency services" in case of complications, the organization "opposes legislation or other requirements that single out abortion services from other outpatient procedures," including admitting privileges requirements and "facility regulations that are more stringent for abortion than for other surgical procedures of similar low risk."

However, Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said the law "protects women by ensuring that abortion providers not only have training in handling abortion complications, but also have a place to handle emergencies which inevitably come up in performing any surgery" ("The Gupta Guide," MedPage Today, 4/29).