Texas Abortion Providers’ Admitting Privileges Reinstated in Lawsuit Settlement

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After filing a lawsuit earlier this year against University General Hospital Dallas (UGHD), two Texas physicians who had their admitting privileges arbitrarily and unexpectedly revoked have now reached a settlement with the hospital—allowing them to maintain privileges at UGHD and continue providing abortion care to their patients.

In an effort to comply with Texas HB2—the sweeping, unconstitutional state law currently being challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights and other advocates on behalf of women’s health care providers—both physicians were initially granted privileges at UGHD in late 2013 and early 2014 and had been safely and legally providing abortion services at clinics within 30 miles of the hospital. But in April 2014, the physicians received an identical letter revoking their privileges because performing abortion services constituted what the hospital called “disruptive behavior”—even though the doctors served their patients at facilities off-site and never had to admit a single patient to UGHD.

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

 "This is an important victory for these dedicated doctors and the women they serve in a state where access to reproductive health care has been decimated by legislative attacks.

“These two physicians will once again be able to provide critical services to their patients. Tragically, many women across Texas still face overwhelming obstacles to safe, legal abortion care because of the politically motivated law that allowed the shutdown of the doctors in this case.”

"A woman's access to constitutionally-protected health care should never depend on where she lives, or on the business dealings or political leanings of hospital administrators. This law must be struck down entirely so doctors can continue to provide a full range of safe, legal, high-quality reproductive health care to all Texas women. "

The two physicians were represented, pro bono, by Debevoise &, Plimpton LLP in this action.

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. In March 2014, the Fifth Circuit upheld both the admitting privileges requirement as applied to all clinics in the state and the restrictions on medication abortion. The Texas health care providers are currently awaiting a decision from the full Fifth Circuit to review the panel's decision.
  • The second, filed in April 2014, 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 scheduled to take effect in September 2014 that 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.