May 29, 2014 — State laws requiring that abortion providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals threaten to leave women in broad areas of the country without abortion access in their region, particularly in rural and low-income parts of the South and Midwest, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.
The laws are especially harmful for abortion clinics in the South because their doctors often come from out of state to perform abortions and do not have connections to local hospitals, according to the AP/Bee. In addition, some hospitals have religious affiliations that bar them from entering into agreements with abortion providers, while others might not grant privileges to out-of-state physicians, the AP/Bee reports.
Some states already have the admitting privileges requirements in place, and others are under court review. For example, a court allowed a law (HB 2) with the requirements to take effect this year in Texas, where 19 of 33 clinics have closed. Tennessee has a similar law, and measures in Mississippi -- which has just one abortion clinic -- and Alabama are on hold while courts consider lawsuits. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, 10 states have laws with admitting privileges requirements, including measures about to be enacted in Louisiana and Oklahoma.
Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel for CRR, said there are potentially "huge swaths of the country where women's options are becoming severely limited." She disputed claims by supporters of the laws who argue that the requirements safeguard women's health. Admitting privileges requirements are "absolutely not medically necessary" and are really designed to restrict abortion access, she said.
However, Denise Burke, vice president of legal affairs for Americans United for Life, said the laws are "obvious and medically appropriate regulation[s] of the abortion providers" (Wagster Pettus, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/29).
Richards: Fight Back on Restrictions
The spread of admitting privileges laws across the South threatens to make the U.S. "a country in which a woman's ability to make the private and personal medical decision best for herself and her family will be dependent upon where she happens to live," Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards writes in a CNN opinion piece.
Richards adds that the "only effective way to stop these attacks on women's health is to change who is in office passing these laws." She writes that lawmakers "who are attacking women's health are on the wrong side of this issue," and "thousands of women, men, and young people across the country ... are willing to fight tooth and nail to stop" the abortion restrictions (Richards, CNN, 5/28).