Abortions slowed in Ariz., Texas
WASHINGTON (BP)--Planned Parenthood clinics in three Arizona cities no longer will provide abortions.
Meanwhile in Texas, the state's medical board has scheduled disciplinary hearings for four abortionists targeted in an undercover sting operation.
The Arizona affiliate of the country's leading abortion provider announced Aug. 18 that its clinics in Flagstaff, Prescott Valley and Yuma would immediately stop offering abortions by means of the drug RU 486, the Associated Press reported. The clinics did not perform surgical abortions.
Planned Parenthood clinics in the Phoenix and Tucson areas will still provide surgical and RU 486 abortions, according to the AP.
The clinic closings followed by a week a court opinion upholding a 2009 state law that places limitations on abortion services. The Abortion Consent Act mandates only doctors perform abortions; requires women to receive full information 24 hours beforehand on abortion, its risks, fetal development and alternatives to the procedure; mandates parental consent for minors; and protects freedom of conscience for pro-life, health-care workers.
The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the law is constitutional.
"If Planned Parenthood truly cared about what's best for women, they wouldn't be repeatedly going to court around the nation to stop laws that allow women to make fully informed choices," said Steven Aden, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which helped defend the law before the appeals court.
"The court ruled rightly in this case in rejecting the arguments of the nation's largest purveyor of abortion," Aden said. "The protection of women is not unconstitutional."
In Texas, the five doctors scheduled for Texas Medical Board disciplinary hearings join five others for whom hearings also have been announced, according to World News Service.
The board will hear the evidence against the latest five on Oct. 28, WNS reported, then decide what disciplinary actions may be taken.
Operation Rescue, which conducted the sting between December 2010 and February 2011, filed complaints against 14 abortionists after finding serious health code violations at a dozen clinics.
WNS reported that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality found fetal remains in the garbage at Whole Women's Health clinics in Austin and McAllen.
Other infractions, according to WNS, included improperly disposing of private patient medical information, violating informed-consent laws, disregarding the 24-hour waiting period, instructing minors to have abortions in neighboring states to avoid Texas' parental-consent law and mishandling drugs and prescription forms.
In one instance, for example, an Operation Rescue volunteer posing as a girl seeking an abortion without her parents' consent recorded a conversation with an El Paso clinic worker who directed her to the abortionist's second facility across the New Mexico state line to evade Texas' parental-notification law. When a passerby found the remains of an aborted baby in the clinic parking lot, that was added to the complaint.
Three of the 14 abortionists Operation Rescue named in its original complaint to the medical board are still under investigation. Charges against one were dropped.
In other news:
Maryland will regulate abortion clinics for the first time under newly proposed guidelines.
The state's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has drafted regulations for clinics that perform surgical abortions and will present them to a legislative committee after a review period, The Gazette reported Aug. 5. The Gazette is a weekly community newspaper in Maryland.
The state has no records on abortion clinics, a health department spokesman told The Gazette.
"We don't know where the [abortion clinics] are unless we look in the Yellow Pages," Karen Black said.
If approved, the regulations would empower the state to inspect clinics and carry out investigations in response to complaints. The proposed regulations would include requirements that each patient undergo a physical exam and every clinic staff member be licensed and trained.
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode and Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.