Admitting Privileges Case Could be Heard by Supreme Court

Last Wednesday, Mississippi asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a law aimed at closing the last remaining abortion clinic in the state. This politically-motivated and medically unnecessary law would force a physician providing abortion care to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, and has been blocked by the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court because it would place an undue burden on women in Mississippi.

Laws like this do nothing to improve patient safety. Admitting privileges are a business arrangement between physicians or a medical facility and a hospital that permits approved physicians to treat patients within the hospital setting. Given the excellent safety record of abortion care, there is no medical reason to require physicians providing abortion care to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. In fact, well respected medical organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have opposed admitting privileges requirements across the country, because they are out of step with the modern practice of medicine and provide no real benefit to patients. In the rare event of a complication, a woman can go to the hospital and receive emergency treatment even if her physician doesn’t have admitting privileges.

In an article yesterday on ThinkProgress, Ian Millhiser summed up the intentions and risks of this law and a Supreme Court decision:

Admitting privileges laws are one of the most common forms of sham health laws that seek to take advantage of a loophole in the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence in order to limit access to abortion….But that does not mean that states can dress up a law intended to limit the right to choose as a health regulation and expect it to survive contact with what remains of Roe v. Wade.

There is no reason for the Supreme Court to take this case. As Millhiser also notes, “If the justices ultimately allow such sham health laws to stand, a state’s ability to limit access to abortion could be limited only by their creativity in designing anti-abortion laws that bear some superficial resemblance to health laws.”

Learn more about admitting privileges and other harmful TRAP laws.

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