Health & Science

Houston Doctor Speaks Out About New State Abortion Rule

Surgery center rule will mean he can no longer do abortions.

The Texas legislature passed a new abortion law last summer, but it’s taken more than a year for all the new rules to go into effect. One Houston doctor says he will have to stop providing abortions if the final rule goes into effect September 1.

The doctor went to medical school in Washington, D.C., but has been practicing in Houston for more than 30 years. He has two offices, one in Greenway Plaza, and one in Spring.

He asked not to be identified because he fears being targeted by abortion protestors.

“The people who choose this discipline, they care about women, and they want to do the very best for every woman that steps in their office,” he said. “We don’t judge anyone.”

The doctor is originally from Nigeria. His medical practice is diverse: he delivers babies, gives well-women exams, performs gynecological surgery, and even offers tummy tucks.

Abortions are a small but important part of his practice.

“Abortion is part of what we’re trained to do as obstetricians-gynecologists. That’s the medical point of it,” he said. “When the politicians get into the mix, it becomes a completely different story.”

He estimates he does about 80 abortions a month.

“If somebody has had five children and they unfortunately get pregnant with sixth, they have to determine ‘Do I want to carry this pregnancy?’” he said. “There are avenues to have a termination at a safe time. And I think that option should be left to the woman to decide.”

Last November, the law required all doctors doing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. This doctor already had them.

But the new provision, set to start in September, requires all abortions to be done in an ambulatory surgical center. The doctor says it’s a way to stop him from doing abortions, period. He would have to build an ambulatory surgical center, or buy one or rent one — and any of those options could take millions of dollars and up to two years.

Supporters of the law say moving the procedure to a surgery center will make it safer for women.

The doctor disagrees.

“They say it’s because they want to protect women. Hogwash,” he said. “They are protecting their political interests, and that’s basically it. They know what they are doing, they want to make it very expensive for the patients to be able to afford it.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes the Texas law.  It says the complication rate for early abortion is less than a tenth of a percent — you’re actually forty times more likely to die from a colonoscopy.

Texas law does not require colonoscopies to be performed in a surgery center, although many are.

If the full law takes effect, there will be about six places left to get an abortion in Texas — two of them in Houston.

The doctor is afraid of what will happen next. Back before abortion was legal, he was a medical student in D.C.

At the hospital, he saw women die from infections, after attempting to give themselves abortion.

He fears that era could return.

“I don’t have any doubt that (those deaths are) going to come back, and that’s because people who want this, that’s what they want, nothing else.”