Over the last four years, anti-choice Republicans have passed more than 200 laws against reproductive rights at the state level. Most of those are in the form of TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider) laws, one of the common features of which is a requirement that any doctor performing abortions have admitting privileges at a local hospital. So what are they doing now? Protesting hospitals to get them to deny admitting privileges to those doctors, of course, as my friend Robin Marty writes.
In Texas, where the state’s endangered clinics are struggling to stay open, the anti-abortion organization Life Dynamics has put together a campaign notifying hospitals that offering admitting privileges to any abortion-providing doctors could be bad for them in some mysterious, unnamed way.
The letters addressed to every hospital in the state don’t specify what exactly the facilities will experience if they do provide access for a doctor. But there are a number of different ways to target a hospital in order to cut off access to legal abortion. Other examples from around the country make it clear that these institutions may experience protests, picketing, and outright harassment of their medical staff and their executives.
For instance, a small group of anti-choice activists in Alabama made it their mission to take on Crestwood Medical Center for offering admitting privileges to one abortion provider in the Huntsville area. In a letter, abortion opponents referred to the hospital as “the ‘lifeline’ enabling the local abortion business to operate,” and promised a protest on hospital grounds. The hospital itself was unmoved, responding in a statement, “We do not intend to — nor can we legally — revoke the medical staff privileges of any trained, licensed, lawful and duly credentialed physician for issues that have no bearing on his or her work or practice at the hospital.”
In Ohio, anti-abortion activists tucked legislation into the state’s yearly budget to make it more difficult for clinics to remain open. The new law requires transfer agreements with nearby hospitals, and even limits which hospitals can offer those privileges by forbidding any institution that receives public funds from entering into an agreement with a local abortion provider. Now, that legislation could have a rippling effect, as pro-life action groups in the state seek to draw attention to hospitals that use abortion clinics to train doctors in full spectrum reproductive health care.
“What kind of logic by University Hospitals can justify training abortionists at Preterm to kill children whose only sin is that their earthly presence will be “inconvenient” while trying to save children of the same gestational age born prematurely at Rainbow Babies and Children Hospital?” demands Lake County Right to Life, a local anti-choice group in Ohio, which has urged its supporters to call the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer and Board Members and demand an end to their “participation in child killing.”
Together, Lake Country Right to Life and Cleveland Right to Life also organized a “prayerful witness” at the main campus of the hospital to protest the “five notorious local abortionists… listed on the teaching faculty of UH.”
The hospital doesn’t even need to be in the same state to be a target. An abortion opponent and pastor from Wisconsin has begun a campaign against the Mayo Clinic Health System in Rochester, Minnesota, demanding the hospital fire a doctor whom he feels didn’t provide adequate care for his wife during a high-risk pregnancy. He claims that the doctor doesn’t value “life” because he might be providing abortions for pregnancy complications at a different hospital — and the protests are taking place at the Franciscan-Mayo in Lacrosse, Wisconsin, despite the fact that no abortions are being performed there.
They justified these regulations on the grounds of protecting the health of the woman, but that was clearly a lie. As with everything they do, the only goal they care about is stopping women from being able to control their own reproduction.