Should Abortionists Be Allowed to Abandon Their Patients?

Anti-abortion supporters rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, during the March for Life 2016, the annual rally held on the anniversary of 1973 'Roe v. Wade' U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

You’ve just had an abortion and it’s gone terribly wrong. The abortionist has sent you to the hospital, but he doesn’t go with you.

He cannot attend to you there – he doesn’t have admitting privileges at that hospital.

At the ER, you tell the physicians that you’ve had an abortion and that you’re in a great deal of pain. They ask you what type of abortion procedure you had, but you do not know. They ask for your medical records, but you do not have them either. Doctors see that you’ve suffered a laceration and that your uterus is ruptured. They perform an emergency hysterectomy only to discover that the baby you thought was aborted had actually been shoved into your abdominal cavity. Doctors remove your dead child, but can’t find a missing limb.

It seems your abortionist had removed the missing body part at his clinic, but didn’t make any notation of it or tell anyone. While the hospital doctors frantically take x-rays and a CT scan searching for the missing limb, your care is delayed.

Sounds like a horror story. But stories like this are documented in a friend-of-the-court brief submitted by former abortion providers and others in the soon-to-be-decided Supreme Court abortion lawsuit Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

At issue in Whole Woman’s Health is Texas’s requirement that an abortionist have admitting privileges at a hospital located within 30 miles of his clinic. Abortionists claim that the law does nothing to advance women’s health. Actually, what they mean is that it does nothing to advance their careers or net worth.

Abortionists don’t like laws requiring them to have hospital admitting privileges because many of them can’t qualify.

Hospitals don’t let doctors practice at their facilities without first doing background checks. They need to ensure that their patients are treated by qualified and competent doctors, so they investigate any potential practitioner. What’s the doctor’s education? Is he or she licensed and board certified? Are there any malpractice lawsuits in his or her history?  For that matter, does he or she even have malpractice insurance?

For many, if not most abortionists, such scrutiny is to be avoided at all costs. Besides, for many of them, treating women they injure is not exactly a priority.

For decades, the abortion advocates have loudly proclaimed that ending an unborn child’s life should be a matter decided “between a woman and her doctor.” And for decades, they have perpetrated a fraud.

In nearly all cases, there is no doctor/patient relationship with abortionists – unless you count the minutes a woman spends on an operating table while a doctor silently removes tiny arms, legs, and other body parts as a “relationship.”

The norm in the abortion business is that the first and last time an abortionist sees his patient is during the abortion. And once the abortion is over, so is his contact with the woman he may have just injured — unless, of course, a state law says that he has to have local hospital admitting privileges.

One of the most important reasons for requiring any doctor to have admitting privileges is to ensure continuity of care. If a physician has treated a patient, knows his or her medical history – what operations have been performed, what prescriptions have been issued – he’s far better equipped to administer the proper emergency treatment.

If an emergency room doctor has to evaluate a patient while knowing very little about what has happened to her, resources are wasted performing unnecessary tests and precious time is wasted learning what the patient’s physician already knows. And that time could be the difference between life and death.

In cases involving women suffering from botched abortions, there may be little information they can offer. A confused teen in agony or, for that matter, anyone who’s suffering intense pain would probably not be able to offer more information than, “I had an abortion.” But if her abortionist accompanies her or meets her at the hospital, he can instantly help her.

Beyond continuity of care, there’s the fundamental question of a doctor’s responsibility to his patient. Testifying on hospital admitting privileges to the Texas Senate, Mikeal Love, M.D., wrote:

I recently spoke to a local physician who provides abortion services in this community. When I asked him about his thoughts on hospital privileges, he responded, “Any physician who does not have hospital privileges is practicing patient abandonment.”

“Patient abandonment,” though, is all too often exactly what happens. At some abortion clinics, a “circuit rider” doctor flies in from another state, performs abortions all day, and flies out again, washing his cash-filled hands of any wrongdoing. Hospital admitting privileges laws prevent this irresponsible behavior and protect women from further trauma.

Numerous states have enacted laws similar to Texas’s, requiring abortionists to have some connection to the community in which they practice by having local hospital admitting privileges. They have understood the concrete benefits that such patient protection provides.

And if you think it’s only pro-lifers who think admitting privileges are important, consider the National Abortion Federation. The NAF’s 2000 publication titled Having an Abortion? Your Guide to Good Care recommended that patients use a doctor who can admit patients to a nearby hospital no more than 20 minutes away.

Somewhere along the way, the NAF decided that their members needed more protection than women did. Today, it makes no mention of having endorsed hospital admitting privileges before it opposed them. This switch lays bare for all to see where the priorities of the abortion industry rest – and it’s not with women’s welfare.


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