State Witnesses in Texas Abortion Law Trial Defend Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers


Read more of our coverage on the HB 2 hearing here.

The State of Texas presented its first witnesses Wednesday afternoon in a federal court hearing concerning the latest legal challenge to HB 2, wherein Texas abortion providers are seeking an injunction against new regulations that require abortion-providing doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals and mandate that abortion facilities operate at hospital-like ambulatory surgical centers.

The state called four witnesses, two of them medical doctors who testified that they believed admitting privileges ensure a “continuity of care” between abortion facilities and emergency rooms, should complications arise following legal abortion procedures performed in Texas, and that abortion-providing ambulatory surgical centers are necessary to ensure the safety of patients who receive legal abortion care. The law also restricts the prescription of medication abortions and bans abortion after 20 weeks, though those provisions are not being challenged in the current case.

Dr. Mayra Jimenez Thompson, a Dallas obstetrician-gynecologist who said she had a religious objection to abortion care and had not performed an abortion in more than 20 years, testified that she had a “very strong belief that [abortion] is a procedure that needs to be performed in an environment that is the utmost safe to the patient,” specifically an ambulatory surgical center.

Later, Dr. James Anderson, a Virginia family practice doctor who has also worked in emergency care, testified that from his “anecdotal experience,” the actual complication rate of legal abortion care is higher than what is reported in mainstream medical literature, necessitating regulations requiring abortion-providing doctors to have hospital admitting privileges. Anderson has testified across the United States in similar abortion law trials, though an Alabama federal judge issued an opinion this week that, in part, said the judge had “concerns” about Anderson’s “judgment or honesty” with regard to continuity of care issues in abortion complications.

Counsel for the plaintiffs—a group of independent Texas abortion providers practicing in El Paso, the Rio Grande Valley, central Texas, and north Texas who say the law places an undue burden on their ability to practice, and patients’ abilities to access, legal abortion care—focused on the state experts’ communications with Vincent Rue, a North Carolina psychoanalyst and anti-abortion activist who in the 1980s was among the first to identify what he calls “post-abortion syndrome,” though that “syndrome” is not recognized in mainstream psychological science.

Plaintiffs’ counsel questioned Thompson and Anderson about their work with Rue, highlighting email correspondence that showed Rue telling Thompson in advance of the HB 2 trial in Austin: “I tried to use as much of your material as I could. Time ran out and this is the best I could do.” In the weeks before the trial, Rue also told Thompson, via email, that he was “still drafting” with regard to her expert testimony.

Thompson later testified that whatever Rue’s involvement may have been in helping her craft the “wording” of her testimony, it was “absolutely” hers and hers alone. Anderson repeatedly referred to the assistance Rue provided him as “wordsmithing.”

The state also called a Texas woman, Ashton Fisher Jimenez, who said she was prescribed medication abortion pills from a Planned Parenthood facility in Waco in 2004 and who described her experience taking the pills as being physically painful. Jimenez now works as a licensed counselor with a chain of crisis pregnancy centers and has done a paid speaking engagement for the anti-choice group Texas Alliance for Life.

Though Jimenez testified that she did not know the difference between an abortion clinic and an ambulatory surgical center and was unfamiliar with the process of obtaining hospital admitting privileges, she said she believed HB 2 would be beneficial, in part, because it would make abortion care harder to access as abortion facilities struggle to comply with the law and, therefore, give women like her more time to consider their decisions.

Testimony for the defense will continue Thursday, with closing arguments to follow. Judge Lee Yeakel is expected to issue a decision before September 1, when the final prong of HB 2 requiring abortion facilities to operate as ambulatory surgical centers is set to go into effect.

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  • StealthGaytheist

    So there’s the one who doesn’t want it done at all, and somehow she’s got the patient’s best interests at heart.

    Then the next antichoicer talks about rumors he’s heard from people…

    Then a woman who experienced some cramps during an abortion. (Gee, can we outlaw menstruation?)

    And they top it off with someone who doesn’t know shit from Shinola but who cares because let’s just admit it, we don’ t care about facts, only about shuttering clinics.

    • L-dan

      Seriously. I’m curious how that last one would compare the pain from a medication abortion to the pain from labor and childbirth.

      • StealthGaytheist

        Oh, but labor and childbirth are good pain because they bring a new baybee into the world.

  • laugh or retch

    “Take our word for it” seems to be the best they can do and it’s not good enough.

  • fiona64

    Dr. Mayra Jimenez Thompson, a Dallas obstetrician-gynecologist who said
    she had a religious objection to abortion care and had not performed an
    abortion in more than 20 years, testified that she had a “very strong
    belief

    A “very strong belief” that goes against documented reality should not be considered testimony.

    • Everybodhi

      Now that the Supreme Court allows belief as testimony, everyone is doing it.

      • fiona64

        IMO, if it is not a verifiable fact, it should *not* be permitted in testimony. But hey, whom am I? Just a citizen of RealityLand …

        • lady_black

          Well, not in this particular case. It doesn’t involve a person’s right to live his beliefs, so any personal beliefs are irrelevant.

      • lady_black

        I don’t think the SCOTUS so much “accepts belief as testimony” as it accepts the right of employers to allow their beliefs (no matter how false in reality) to short-circuit the laws of the land (as related to employment rights). That’s a problem, but it’s a different legal question. In this case, the “beliefs” of those testifying do not involve their own personal handling of a generally applicable law. In this case, a person’s personal beliefs, anecdotal experience, etc. should be given little weight in consideration to what the law is for all citizens and providers in Texas. The doctors testifying have every right to practice medicine without doing abortions if it conflicts with their beliefs, and the patient who experienced “discomfort” during an abortion is free to never have another abortion. Their “beliefs” cannot be used to constrain other doctors who ARE willing to perform abortions, and patients who desire to terminate their pregnancies.

  • fiona64

    she said she believed HB 2 would be beneficial, in part, because it
    would make abortion care harder to access as abortion
    facilities struggle to comply with the law and, therefore, give women
    like her more time to consider their decisions.

    … thus ensuring a later abortion. Do these idiots not consider what they are saying?

    • dudebro

      Yes and of course part of the restrictions is a ban on pill abortions.

  • Kris Weibel

    Politics at it’s best! According to Dr. Anderson, the complication rate is higher than reported in mainstream….and this is based in…his anecdotal experience. WTF I had an abortion in my Dr’s. office. The procedure is not that big of a deal. It is no different than a D&C after a miscarriage. Will they outlaw that next?

    • fiona64

      They’re already working on getting rid of contraception; I guarantee you that the next thing on their agenda is women’s suffrage. These idiots want to take us back to the Victorian era.

  • dagobarbz

    Yeah, give the woman “time to think” until it’s too late. I hate these hypocrites so very, very deeply.

  • Arachne646

    So this OB-Gyn believes that abortions should be done in hospitals, as is done here in Canada with the ones too far along for medication? Since that would be “safer” for some reason she doesn’t have evidence to demonstrate?

  • P. McCoy

    Men can go blind by use of Viagra and Cialis, so why not ban them too? Are those unnecessary things contributing to the ‘arbitrary phrase’ “culture of death?” No- that hypocrisy only applies to women. What right have YOU to Interfere with my.surgical risks?

  • fiona64

    Sweetie, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, whom I consider far more expert on the matter than some anti-choice loon on the internet, say exactly the opposite: http://www.acog.org/About-ACOG/News-Room/News-Releases/2013/Hospital-Admitting-Privileges-for-Physicians-Providing-Abortion-Services

    Quote: ACOG opposes legislation or other requirements that single out
    abortion services from other outpatient procedures. For example, ACOG
    opposes laws or other regulations that require abortion providers to
    have hospital admitting privileges. ACOG also opposes facility
    regulations that are more stringent for abortion than for other surgical
    procedures of similar low risk.

    Where is your outcry about oral surgeons needing admitting privileges, sweetie? Wisdom tooth removal is far more dangerous than abortion.