States try to restrict which doctors can do abortions

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 22, 2013

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Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, MD, has signed a law requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The Women’s Health and Safety Act also will require clinics that provide abortions to meet the same facility standards as ambulatory care centers.

Dr. Bentley, who signed the law April 9, said the statute “provides appropriate standards of care” and has been endorsed by anti-abortion groups throughout the state. Critics called the law an attack on women’s health aimed at restricting access to abortion care. Many Alabama clinics hire out-of-town physicians to perform abortion procedures and partner with local doctors to provide follow-up care.

The Alabama law follows similar measures enacted in Mississippi and North Dakota. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple approved a law March 26 that requires physicians who perform abortions in the state to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. That measure is scheduled to go into effect in August.

In Mississippi, however, a U.S. District Court judge on April 15 barred the state from enforcing a regulation requiring doctors to have hospital admitting privileges. In 2012, a federal judge temporarily had blocked a state law with the admitting privileges requirement and a mandate that physicians providing abortions be board-certified obstetrician-gynecologists. The measure, initially scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2012, would have shuttered the state’s last remaining reproductive health clinic that offers abortion services.

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