The XX Factor

Anti-Choicers Try to Strip Doctors of Admitting Privileges They Forced Them to Get in the First Place

Hospital admitting privileges were never about a concern for women’s health.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Women who go to clinics that provide abortion, whether they’re going for abortion or for other services like check-ups or contraception, often have to endure pushing their way through a crowd of protesters trying to shame them. Now that nuisance could soon become an obstacle for people trying to go to the emergency room or visit a loved one in the hospital. Robin Marty at ThinkProgress writes about anti-choice groups that have started to threaten local hospitals that there will be consequences if the hospitals allow abortion providers to have admitting privileges.

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.

As Marty details, anti-choice groups in Alabama have already threatened protests if the hospital doesn’t revoke admitting privileges for a doctor who performs abortion. Protesters have started to show up at other hospitals in Wisconsin and Michigan, demanding that the hospitals stop working with doctors because they provide abortions elsewhere. 

If you weren’t already sure of it, these campaigns against hospitals expose how disingenuous the fight to pass laws requiring admitting privileges was in the first place. These laws were passed ostensibly to protect women’s safety, with anti-choicers suggesting (erroneously) that women who have the (very rare) complications from abortion that require hospitalization somehow can’t get care if the doctor performing the abortion doesn’t have admitting privileges to a local hospital. (In reality, women requiring this care simply show up at the emergency room like anyone else needing care, and get it.) But if anti-choicers really believe that an abortion doctor needs admitting privileges to offer quality of care, then why are they trying to get rid of those admitting privileges?

Of course, the real reason for the admitting privilege laws is to reduce the number of people who can offer safe, legal abortion in a state, and any other noises made about women’s health and safety should be understood for what they are: lies. This was obvious when state legislatures passed these laws despite there being no evidence of their necessity and plenty of evidence that the regulations shut down access to safe abortion services women need. It’s only more obvious now that anti-choice activists are trying to strip doctors of the very admitting privileges they themselves argued were so necessary in the first place.