Dangerous Abortion Clinic Reopening in Texas After Supreme Court Struck Down Pro-Life Law

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 16, 2017   |   7:12PM   |   Austin, Texas

A Texas abortion clinic plans to reopen in April, less than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state abortion clinic law that prompted it to close.

Whole Woman’s Health, a chain of abortion clinics in Texas that challenged the state abortion clinic regulation law at the U.S. Supreme Court and won, announced this week that its Austin abortion facility will reopen, the Austin Chronicle reports.

The abortion chain has a long history of misconduct and violations of Texas health and safety regulations. State inspection reports obtained by Texas Alliance for Life showed dozens of violations that threatened the health and safety of its patients, including lack of sterilization of abortion instruments, lack of an RN or LVN on staff, rusty suction machines, and expired and unlabeled medications.

Whole Woman’s Health in Austin and McAllen also were caught illegally dumping aborted babies’ body parts and were fined $83,000, LifeNews reported in 2012.

In 2013, Whole Woman’s Health closed its Austin facility rather than comply with a new state law requiring that abortion clinics meet ambulatory surgical center standards. According to the Chronicle, the facility needed about $1 million in renovations to meet the new health and safety standards.

“When we had to make the devastating decision to close in Austin in 2013, after all of the political attacks from HB 2, I made the commitment that as soon as I could reopen in Austin, I would do just that,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, this week.

Elite Daily described the Austin facility as Whole Woman’s Health’s “flagship clinic,” and its leaders have been working hard to reopen it. The owners said they have not set a specific date for the reopening in April.

Elite Daily praised the announcement as “great news for women in Texas.” But Whole Woman’s Health’s long record of health and safety violations tells a very different story.

Back in 2013, Hagstrom Miller blasted the new state abortion clinic law, saying, “The point of this legislation was to make abortion inaccessible. It wasn’t about safety . . . there is no safety problem around abortion in Texas.”

Texas Alliance for Life responded with this statement: “Contrary to her claim, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), which regulates abortion facilities, has cited four of the five Whole Woman’s Health facilities for violating current safety laws during the last three years, some dozens of times. Many the violations threaten the health and safety of the patients, including lack of sterilization of abortion instruments, lack of an RN or LVN on staff, rusty suction machines, and expired and unlabelled medications. In most cases, the violations have been acknowledged by the administrator of the corresponding abortion facility indicating that Whole Woman’s Health is fully aware that they are operating abortion facilities in violation of the law.”

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Find the list of violations that state inspectors found here.

In addition, Operation Rescue documented three 911 emergency responses to patient emergencies at the Austin clinic in a 30-day period in 2012, including one whose condition was potentially life threatening. The pro-life group said the frequent calls were an indication of “a poor track record when it comes to women’s safety.”

In 2012, the Texas Medical Board also disciplined two abortion practitioners from the troubled Whole Woman’s Heath abortion chain, Alan H. Molson and Robert E. Hanson. Molson, 60, and Hanson, 72, both admitted to conduct that constituted violations of the standards of patient care. Both were fined $3,000 and ordered to take continuing medical education classes in risk management.

Molson admitted during an Informal Settlement Conference in 2011 that he did not routinely see patients at the time of the post-abortion follow-up visit and that most follow-up visits were done by medical assistants, who are unqualified to provide the proper post-abortion care. He also admitted that the medical assistants would evaluate the patients and provide prescriptions for birth control pills that were pre-signed by Molson, if the patients met certain parameters. These admissions all constituted violations, according to the Board order.

Hanson admitted during his conference that he sees patients for the first time on the day of the abortion and fails do a complete history and physical. Only limited vital signs of the patient are checked before the abortion.