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2 Abortion Doctors Settle Suit Over Revoked Privileges

UPDATED: Two Texas abortion doctors who filed a lawsuit against a Dallas hospital after losing their admitting privileges have settled their case with the hospital, which will reinstate their privileges.

*Correction appended.

Updated, June 10, 1:38 p.m.:

Two Texas abortion doctors who filed a lawsuit against a Dallas hospital after losing their admitting privileges have settled their case with the hospital, which will reinstate their privileges.

In April, Lamar Robinson, owner of Abortion Advantage, and Jasbir Ahluwalia, the medical director of Routh Street Women’s Clinic, said they received letters from University General Hospital in Dallas revoking their admitting privileges at the hospital after anti-abortion protesters targeted the hospital.

In the settlement, University General Hospital was “restrained from directly or indirectly” revoking the doctors’ admitting privileges because of their “willingness to participate in an abortion procedure” at another facility.

With their admitting privileges to the hospital in place, the two doctors will be able to continue providing abortion services at clinics within 30 miles of the hospital in compliance with new abortion regulations passed last summer by the Republican-led Texas Legislature.

Original story, April 17:

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, two Texas abortion doctors allege a Dallas-area hospital revoked their admitting privileges shortly after it became the target of anti-abortion protesters.

The plaintiffs, Dr. Lamar Robinson, owner of Abortion Advantage, and Dr. Jasbir Ahluwalia, the medical director of Routh Street Women’s Clinic, allege that University General Hospital in Dallas revoked their admitting privileges four days after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled new abortion regulations requiring doctors to have nearby hospital admitting privileges were constitutional. The lawsuit does not seek monetary relief but asks the court to require immediate reinstatement of their admitting privileges.

Dallas County District Judge Sheryl Day McFarlin granted the doctors' request for a temporary reinstatement of admitting privileges and scheduled a hearing on the merits of the case on April 30. 

New abortion regulations passed by the Republican-led Texas Legislature last summer require doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of where the abortion is performed, among other terms. The rules took effect in November.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a constitutional challenge to the rules in March. In the opinion issued by the three-judge panel, Justice Edith Jones wrote that the state's "articulation of rational legislative objectives, which was backed by evidence placed before the state Legislature, easily supplied a connection between the admitting-privileges rule and the desirable protection of abortion patients’ health." The court also stressed that Texas law prohibits hospitals from discriminating against doctors who perform voluntary abortions when they grant admitting privileges.

Four days after the 5th Circuit’s ruling, University General Hospital in Dallas sent a letter to the doctors saying that their admitting privileges had been revoked because the plaintiffs “perform ‘voluntary interruption of pregnancies’ as a regular part of [their] medical practice” at other facilities, according to the lawsuit. Robinson was first granted admitting privileges by the hospital in December 2013, and Ahluwalia received admitting privileges in January 2014.

University General Hospital could not immediately be reached for comment. A receptionist said the hospital was conducting an all-staff meeting.

In March, anti-abortion protesters targeted University General Hospital for granting Robinson admitting privileges and demanded that the hospital revoke the privileges of any doctor who performs voluntary abortions.

A Catholic blogger who helped organize the protests commended the hospital on March 28 for revoking Robinson’s privileges.

 

Correction: The Dallas County district judge who approved the temporary reinstatement of admitting privileges is Sheryl Day McFarlin. 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/06/10/abortion-doctors-sue-hospital-revoking-privileges/.

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