Texas Hospital Discriminates Against Physicians Providing Abortion Services

Two high quality providers in Texas file new lawsuit after having admitting privileges revoked, forcing them to immediately stop providing abortion services

(PRESS RELEASE) Two Texas physicians filed a lawsuit today against University General Hospital Dallas (UGHD) after their admitting privileges were arbitrarily and unexpectedly revoked—privileges they were forced to obtain due to HB2, the sweeping unconstitutional Texas state law currently being challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights and other advocates on behalf of women’s health care providers in the state. 

Both physicians—who are also part of the first legal challenge to HB2—were initially granted privileges at UGHD in late 2013 and early 2014 and have since been safely and legally providing abortion services at clinics within 30 miles of the hospital. A few weeks ago, both physicians received an identical letter revoking their privileges.

The letter asserts that performing abortion services constitutes “disruptive behavior,” even though the physicians provide abortion care at facilities separate and unrelated to the hospital and have never even had to admit a patient to UGHD. The letter also states that providing privileges to physicians who provide abortion services “damages UGHD’s reputation within the community.” The physicians are suing under a Texas state law that prevents hospitals from discriminating against physicians because they provide abortion care and which allows for reinstatement of privileges that are wrongfully revoked. 

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO with the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“This case shows that Texas has put the constitutional rights of its women in the hands of biased hospital administrators. As a consequence, the list of high-quality abortion providers forced to turn away patients continues to grow, while reproductive health care options for Texas women continue to shrink.

“It is the woman—not a hospital mired in political biases or politicians who presume to know better—who should decide the best reproductive health care choice for herself and her family."

The two physicians are represented by Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is currently involved in two separate challenges to HB2:

  • The first—which was filed along with other reproductive health advocates and providers in September 2013—challenges the law’s unconstitutional restrictions on medication abortion as well as the requirement that abortion providers obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. The admitting privileges provision was initially struck down, but then took effect on October 31, 2013, after a decision by the Fifth Circuit to stay the lower court’s injunction. The results have been nothing short of devastating, leaving thousands of women without access to health care and several clinics closing their doors across the state. Just last month, the Fifth Circuit upheld both the admitting privileges requirement as applied to all clinics in the state and the restrictions on medication abortion.  The Center for Reproductive Rights has since requested the full Fifth Circuit review the constitutionality of the admitting privileges requirement.
  • The second—which was filed earlier this month—seeks a court order blocking the law’s admitting privileges requirement as it applies to Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen and Reproductive Health Services in El Paso—two clinics that are among the last, if not the only, reproductive health care providers offering safe, legal abortion care in their communities.  The second lawsuit also seeks to strike down HB2’s provision that every reproductive health care facility offering abortion services meet the same building requirements as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), a provision which would leave fewer than 10 clinics in Texas and force many women to endure a roundtrip of more than a thousand miles or cross state lines to access safe and legal abortion services.