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Texas Abortion Doctors Regain Admitting Privileges After Lawsuit

June 11, 2014 — Two Texas physicians who provide abortion care can continue offering the procedure after reaching a settlement with a hospital that they sued for revoking their admitting privileges, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Under a Texas law (HB 2) enacted last year, doctors who provide abortions must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital (Mervosh, Dallas Morning News, 6/10).

Lawsuit Background

The University General Hospital in Dallas granted admitting privileges to Lamar Robinson, owner of Abortion Advantage, in December 2013 and to Jasbir Ahluwalia, medical director of Routh Street Women's Clinic, this January.

However, the hospital later revoked the privileges for both abortion providers. The hospital said in a letter that their admitting privileges were revoked because they "perform 'voluntary interruption of pregnancies' as a regular part of [their] medical practice" (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/18). The hospital also said that providing abortions was "disruptive" to its business and reputation (Dallas Morning News, 6/10).

In April, Robinson and Aluwalia sued the hospital under a state statute that prohibits hospitals from discriminating against the practice of abortion, and Dallas County District Judge Sheryl Day McFarlin temporarily reinstated their admitting privileges (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/18). According to the Morning News, the temporary arrangement was set to expire on Tuesday (Dallas Morning News, 6/10).

Settlement Reached

The doctors and University General Hospital reached an agreement that restrains the hospital "from directly or indirectly" revoking the physicians' admitting privileges because of their "willingness to participate in an abortion procedure" at a location other than the hospital (Aaronson/Ura, Texas Tribune, 6/10).

The specific terms of the settlement are confidential. However, a University General Hospital spokesperson said that it does not involve a monetary payout.

Statewide Impact

The doctors sued under the same statute that the state has used to defend HB 2. The state argued that the statute, which prohibits hospitals from discriminating against providers for their willingness or refusal to participate in abortions, ensures that reputable doctors can seek admitting privileges without fear that they will be rejected for offering abortion care.

The admitting privileges requirement -- which is the target of other legal challenges -- has created obstacles for many clinics in the state. About one-third of clinics that were offering abortion care prior to its enactment have since closed, according to the Morning News.

In September, another provision of HB 2 will take effect that requires clinics that offer abortion services to meet ambulatory surgical center requirements. Only six clinics currently meet that standard (Dallas Morning News, 6/10).