Texas Doctors Worry New Rules Will Restrict Abortion Discussions

September 5, 2012 — Doctors in Texas are raising concern that the state's takeover of the program will restrict their ability to discuss abortion with patients, KUHF reports. The state is in the process of rewriting the rules for providers who participate.

Doctors are concerned the state will penalize them for discussing abortion with patients or providing information at their clinics about the procedure. Michael Speer, president of the Texas Medical Association, said, "[W]e don't think it's appropriate for a governmental entity to tell us what we can and cannot discuss with our patients."

Celia Neavel -- a physician at the People's Community Clinic in Austin, which currently participates in WHP -- said that in addition to not providing abortion care, providers are not supposed to "promote" abortion. It is not clear how the state will define "promote," she said, adding, "[I]f it means we can't discuss [abortion] when it comes up, if it means we can't give a handout for services (about) where's a legal place to go get further care within the community, then we'll have to decide whether we want to accept this program."

Stephanie Goodman of the state Health and Human Services Commission said the state is "not trying to get in the middle of that doctor-patient relationship" and "understand[s] they have a professional standard to uphold." She added, "[T]hat's probably an area where we need to do some work on the wording of the rules to make it much clearer about what we were really trying to achieve."

The state is expected to finalize the rules in coming weeks (Feibel, KUHF, 9/3).