Houston abortion clinic shut down due to pro-life legislation

Texas officials have shut down a Houston abortion clinic and suspended the license of its doctor under a new state law requiring physicians who perform the procedure to hold admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The Department of State Health Services has revoked the abortion license of A Affordable Women’s Medical Center and the Texas Medical Board has temporarily suspended the medical license of Dr. Theodore M. Herring Jr., the facility’s medical director and sole provider of abortions, the agencies announced Friday.

Theodore Herring TX

Herring unlawfully performed 268 abortions between Nov. 6 and Feb. 7, according to the two agencies.

The disciplinary actions against the north Houston clinic and doctor were the first taken by state authorities since the law went into effect Nov. 1. The law requires abortion clinic doctors to have privileges at a hospital that provides obstetrical or gynecological services and is within 30 miles of the facility where they provide the procedure.

The state health department Friday indefinitely revoked the facility’s license. A medical board disciplinary panel Thursday temporarily suspended Herring’s license. Both actions took effect immediately.

According to TMB documents, Herring failed to even apply for hospital privileges after the passage of highly publicized abortion clinic safety law that was passed last year. The violation was discovered during an inspection at Herring’s A Affordable Women’s Medical Center abortion clinic on December 11, 2013.

“The clinic regulations in Texas are successfully working to shut down seedy abortion operations that are operating illegally and posing a danger to the public. When abortion clinics close, lives are saved. It couldn’t be clearer how much this law is necessary in order to protect women and babies from predatory and dangerous abortionists,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “We continue to urge the passage of similar laws in every state.”

Herring submitted an application to obtain hospital privileges on January 15, 2014 and submitted a plan of correction to the Department of State Health Services, which notified him that a correction plan was insufficient and that he remained in violation of state law.

Yet, Herring continued to supply abortions and was inspected again on February 7, 2014, where he once again admitted that he was in non-compliance.

Herring’s license was temporarily suspended on February 13 after the TMB found that he “has engaged in ongoing violations of the law that make his continued practice of medicine a continuing threat to the public health and safety,” according to the suspension order.

“The closure of this illicit abortion operation and the suspension of Herring’s medical license further exposes the systemic ‘above the law’ attitude so common among abortionists who routinely defy safety regulations at the expense of the health and safety of their patients,” said Newman.

The new law, known as HB 1, was passed last year during a second special legislative session was called by Gov. Rick Perry after a filibuster by pro-abortion Democrat Wendy Davis caused a near riot in the statehouse that delayed a vote on the measure until after a previous special session had expired. The law went into effect on November 1, 2013. HB 1 was challenged in court and initially enjoined by a lower court, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the law could indeed go into effect while the case is litigated. That led to the closure of nearly a dozen abortion clinics, seven of which were permanent.

Hearings on the suspension and clinic closure are expected later this month.

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