Women’s health post-abortion bill passes house committee
4th April 2014 · 0 Comments
By Nayita Wilson
Proposed legislation that would provide for a streamlined approach to the post-procedure health and medical attention of women who undergo abortion procedures passed the Louisiana House of Representatives’ Health and Welfare committee last week.
Rep. Katrina Jackson of Monroe is the lead author of HB 388, which she said would require abortion physicians to obtain the same admitting privileges that are applicable to all Louisiana ambulatory surgical clinics (ASC) that perform outpatient procedures as required by current state law.
Jackson told The Louisiana Weekly that she introduced the bill after witnessing incidents across the nation where concerns were raised surrounding abortion physicians’ ability to treat patients post-abortion in a timely fashion. She also said that she and several legislative colleagues were initially of the belief that Louisiana abortion clinics were required by law to align themselves with local hospitals.
Currently, Title 48, Chapter 45 of Louisiana’s Administrative Code 48:I.4535(e1) outlines admitting privileges for ambulatory ASCs in the event of medical emergencies and requires that members of the center’s medial staff be a member in good standing “of the medical staff of at least one hospital in the community and that hospital(s) must be currently licensed by the Department of Health and Human Resources.”
The proposed legislation requires abortion physicians to: have admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30-mile radius of the clinic; provide their contact or the contact information of a staff member who has 24-hour access to patients’ medical records to the patient; provide contact information for a nearby hospital should an emergency arise; and provide information about abortion practices.
It also provides for regulations and reporting requirements in instances of medically induced abortions.
“These are the only types of surgical clinics in the state of Louisiana where the physicians are not required to have an affiliation with the hospitals. No one in the committee negated that abortions are surgical procedures,” Jackson said.
Opponents think otherwise.
Amy Irvin, co- founder of the New Orleans abortion fund and member of the National Network of Abortion Funds, said “Essentially, you’re comparing apples to oranges here. Abortion is a minor surgery performed with minimal sedation. This is done in private practice offices in outpatient facilities. ACSs perform complicated surgeries requiring heavy sedation. These are completely two different types of surgeries,” she said.
Irvin also argued against post-procedure communication between patients and physicians. She said that there are current Louisiana laws in place that require a 24-hour wait period for women considering an abortion following a mandated ultra sound as well as face-to-face consultation with physicians prior to an abortion. She also noted a 24-hour phone line that patients can call in the event of emergency.
Proponents of the bill highlighted post-abortion complications that women experience as well as the patient-client experience that some women face.
Cindy Collins, founder of Louisiana Abortion Recovery, said her organization has counseled hundreds of women who have experienced post-abortion trauma.
Sharing her personal experience, Collins said she experienced an abortion procedure that resulted in the physician stopping the procedure and telling her to “get out” mid-way. After being asked to leave, she said she began hemorrhaging and passing parts of the baby, which required a visit to the emergency room where she underwent a dilation and curettage (D&C) suction procedure.
“I could not go ahead and call the (abortion) physician back. Frankly, I didn’t even know who he was,” Collins told legislators.
She added: “I’ve counseled in the past 28 years hundreds of women and there have been a percentage of those that just like myself have had most commonly parts of the babies left inside of them. They’ve also had complications of perforated uteruses and immediate damage where they have not gotten the medical care that that woman needed after that abortion, and that’s what this law would establish.”
Jackson’s bill was co-authored by 15 legislators. The bill’s passage from the Health and Welfare committee sends it to the House floor for debate and vote.
This article originally published in the March 24, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.