Alex Doucet, Contributing Writer
Earlier this semester, Abortion Advantage, the Dallas abortion clinic run by Dr. Lamar Robinson MDPA OB/GYN, gained hospital admitting privileges and resumed its abortion services. Crusaders for Life has since resumed holding its weekly Prayerful Presence ministry in front of the facility.
Texas House Bill No. 2 (HB No. 2), which passed through the Texas legislature last summer, affected many abortion facilities throughout Texas, including Abortion Advantage. When Robinson’s clinic stopped performing abortions in November, many students hoped that it would close completely, and Crusaders for Life began praying outside a different clinic. Yet while abortions at Robinson’s clinic did halt, the clinic never actually closed. Emily Horn, the legislative associate at Texas Right to Life who called the clinic after Oct. 31 when the bill went into effect, was told that though the clinic was not currently offering abortion services, the doors were open for other appointments.
Horn explained that Robinson is a plaintiff in lawsuits filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, with which Planned Parenthood had filed a legal defense against the hospital-admitting privileges provision. By means of these legal actions, Robinson’s clinic was able to gain admitting privileges and resume abortion services.
Another provision may soon affect Robinson’s clinic, however. Next September, Texas abortion clinics will have to meet the requirements of an ambulatory surgical center. Currently, Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center is the only facility in Dallas that meets the requirements.
According to Becky Visosky, director of communications for the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas, this requirement means “there must be more ability on site to care about certain things, such as halls hav[ing] to be wide enough to run a gurney down.” The provision goes into effect later than the hospital admitting privileges provision to give facilities more time to comply with its standards. For many facilities, including Robinson’s clinic, complying with the provision will involve extensive reconstruction. Crusaders for Life is hoping that, after cost-benefit analysis, facilities like Robinson’s will discontinue abortion services rather than successfully comply with the ambulatory surgical center provision.
Contrary to some students’ beliefs, the post-20-week abortion ban was not the reason that the clinic suspended its abortion services. In fact, Abortion Advantage did not perform late-term abortions at all. Rather, it temporarily halted abortion services because it did not satisfy the “hospital-admitting privileges” provision required by the amended Health and Safety Code under the Section 2 of HB No. 2.
Under this code, a physician performing or inducing an abortion must have active admitting privileges at a hospital that is within 30 miles of the clinic and that provides obstetrical or gynecological health care services. The physician must also provide the pregnant woman with contact information by which to reach him or other 24-hour health care and emergency personnel.
“Should an emergency happen and there [be] a need to move the woman to hospital care, the abortionist can call beforehand and admit the woman into the hospital, ensuring ahead that the hospital knows the case; but when the woman goes in an ambulance without admittance, there is no continuity of care for her case — they have to start from ground zero,” explained Visosky.
The fact that Abortion Advantage has resumed abortion services does not mean that it is also allowed to perform abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization.
Section 3 of the bill requires that the physician performing or inducing the abortion make a determination report of the post-fertilization age of the unborn child. The only exceptions to the bill are cases in which the woman is in immediate risk of death or irreversible impairment of a major bodily function, or cases of “severe fetal abnormity,” wherein the unborn child has a life-threatening physical condition that is incompatible with life outside of the womb.
The bill specifies that the physician must provide “the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive.”
Robinson’s clinic will face fines and other penalties if the bill is violated. The facility is also required to file a very detailed report on each individual patient and the abortion performance or inducement, including the type of procedure, the probable post-fertilization age and several other details. According to Visosky, the facility is inspected annually to ensure its legal compliance.