When Democratic Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis conducted a 11-hour-long filibuster of Texas's anti-abortion bill Tuesday night, she also successfully killed several provisions within the legislation that doctors say don't make sense.
In addition to banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the bill would have also required all abortions be performed at ambulatory surgical centers, and abortion providers to get admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.
Anti-abortion groups said the measures would increase safety for women. But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the main professional group for OB/GYNs, said neither measure makes sense, and the American Medical Association said it deferred to ACOG's position on both issues.
"The regulations set forth [in the Texas bill] require additional standards that are not necessary," said Lisa Hollier, chair of the Texas district of ACOG, which says abortion clinics should have a plan in place for emergency services instead of transferring patients elsewhere for emergency treatment. "The regulations are much more stringent than for other surgical procedures at similar risk, such as a colonoscopy."
Ambulatory surgical centers, which provide outpatient surgeries, often deal with procedures that require a high level of anesthesia, which is not required in a typical abortion. In a statement on its website, ACOG said it also opposed the provision in the bill that would have required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. "ACOG opposes legislation or other requirements that single out abortion services from other outpatient procedures," it said.
While fewer than 1 percent of abortions result in complications that require surgery, according to state health departments, Republican state senators insisted requiring hospital privileges was necessary to guarantee the safest treatment possible for women in the case of an emergency.
Abortion rights groups argue the provisions were just a tactic to close down clinics.
Elizabeth Nash, a state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights group, says the measure to require admitting privileges for abortion providers "gives a hospital veto power over who provides an abortion." Nash cites Mississippi as a recent example, as the state's only abortion clinic is currently suing to block a bill that would require admitting privileges for abortion providers after no hospitals in the state would grant the clinic those privileges.
Though Texas's anti-abortion bill is dead, at least for now, similar legislation may appear soon in other states. In Ohio, Republican lawmakers are currently pushing an amendment that would require doctors to look for a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion, and notify the woman of the heartbeat.