First medical doctor in Texas suspended under new abortion law
Physician failed to admit patients to an authorized hospital within 30 miles of procedure
It went into effect late last year - and now the first Texas doctor has been suspended under that state's new abortion law. Dr. Theodore Herring performed hundreds of abortions without the right to admit patients to an authorized hospital within 30 miles where the procedures took place.
Supporters of an abortion bill cheer during an anti-abortion rally at the Texas Capitol, Monday, July 8, 2013, in Austin, Texas.
Admitting privileges allow doctors to check women into a local hospital in the event that they are injured during the procedure.
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"The suspension was effective immediately," the board said. According to the board, Herring would pose a threat to public welfare by continuing to practice medicine.
Opponents of the new law say that given the vast size of Texas, the admitting privileges requirement places a burden on clinics. They also say the law is punitive to those in rural areas where medical care can be few or far between.
Supporters of the law said the requirement is necessary to protect the health of women in case there is a complication with an abortion.
The new law also requires abortion clinics to meet new building standards, bans abortion after 20 weeks and requires strict adherence to federal guidelines in prescribing abortion pills.
The anti-abortion group, Texas Right to Life, called upon the board to suspend more physicians. "Dr. Herring is not the only abortionist practicing illegally in Texas," the group said.
In opposition, a spokeswoman with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, Heather Busby says that the admitting privileges requirement is "medically unnecessary and does nothing to improve what is one of the safest outpatient procedures."
Its "true purpose is to force abortion providers out of business and has already led to the closure of nearly one-third of Texas' safe, legal abortion clinics," she said in an email.
Democratic state Senator Wendy Davis spoke against the law in the Legislature for several hours last year, gaining her a nationwide following and propelling her to run for Texas governor.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court, which is hearing the current appeal, reinstated a restriction that was blocked by a lower court last October. This allowed nearly all of the state's sweeping anti-abortion law to go into effect.
The case then went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to block implementation of the law on November 4, allowing it to go into effect.
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