This week, U.S. Circuit Judge Bobby Shepherd ruled that an admitting privileges law in Missouri can go into effect, overturning a lower court’s injunction. The law, according to National Review, “requires that abortion providers serve as ambulatory surgical centers and contract with doctors who have admitting privileges at a local hospital.” This means that abortion facilities will be held to the same health and safety standards as other facilities performing outpatient surgery. Those opposed to the law have argued that it is unconstitutional because of the Supreme Court’s 2016 ruling against certain abortion restrictions in Texas in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, but Judge Shepherd addressed those concerns, stating:
Hellerstedt did not find, as a matter of law, that abortion was inherently safe or that provisions similar to the laws it considered would never be constitutional. Instead, it held that the “District Court applied the correct legal standard” when it “weighed the asserted benefits against the burdens.” The district court here explicitly refused to “weigh the asserted benefits” stating that to do so “would be impermissible judicial practice.
National Right to Life News noted, “Judge Shepherd was alluding to a fact too often ignored when courts routinely overturn this two-sided, commonsense requirement: there are real benefits to women to have their abortionist affiliated with a nearby hospital, beginning with continuity of care and “responsible participation of the patient in her own medical care,” but extending far beyond that.”
The case of abortionist Steven Brigham, who was recently stripped of his medical license in New Jersey, is one example of the effect a lack of admitting privileges and abortion restrictions can have. As previously reported by Live Action News, the Courier Post noted that the medical board’s decision to revoke Brigham’s license was in part because “‘Brigham’s patients were exposed to harm by his lack of hospital or (licensed ambulatory care facility) privileges to deal with unforeseen complications.’” When a woman visits an emergency room with post-abortion complications, emergency room physicians are left at a disadvantage without the information an admitting physician can provide. This puts women’s lives at greater risk.