Here Are Some Medical Procedures Texas Regulates Less Than Abortions

Placing tough new rules on abortion clinics is just common sense, according to common sense fanatic Rick Perry. He says that House Bill 2--the new law requiring all abortions to be performed in surgical centers, by a doctor with admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles -- will ensure "that anyone performing abortions in Texas is doing so in a facility that is safe, clean and prepared to deal with any emergencies that might occur."

That's nice. But if we're really serious about putting safety first in Texas, then we haven't gone far enough. Here is an alarming list of popular outpatient procedures that can still be performed in a normal, non-surgical clinic, by a doctor who doesn't necessarily have hospital-admitting-privileges.


The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that abortions pose about the same risk as colonoscopies.

After Katie Couric got a colonoscopy on national television, the American public got over its fear of letting a doctors stick tiny video cameras up their rectums and started getting lots and lots of colonoscopies. Now, some experts say that the push for colonoscopies often appears to be motivated by profits rather than health. "We've defaulted to by far the most expensive option, without much if any data to support it," Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, at Dartmouth, told the New York Times in June.

In Texas, a recent study of elderly patients suggests that a whopping 39 percent were given colonoscopies they didn't actually need. Perhaps doctors will stop trying to look at our colons so much when they can no longer do so from the comfort of their overpriced family-practice suites on Turtle Creek.

Vasectomies Men's precious bodies are being stripped of their ability to fertilize women in a host of crude, non-surgical settings. "A vasectomy can be performed in a medical office, hospital, or clinic," says the Planned Parenthood website.

Wisdom Teeth A doctor can rip out your wisdom teeth while you sit in the same dentists' chair that only three hours earlier was occupied by a child vomiting bubble gum-flavored fluoride. "Due to advances in surgical and anesthesia techniques, extraction of wisdom teeth can normally be performed safely on an outpatient basis under sedation," says one Wisdom Teeth surgery peddler.

Miscarriage treatment If you're suffering a miscarriage, you can still run to an ordinary doctor's office. As one physician writes: "Truth be told, the surgical management of a miscarriage is exactly the same as a first trimester surgical abortion. Exactly the same. I am permitted to perform a dilation and curettage in my clinic as long as it is in the context of a miscarriage, however this is not so in the case of the termination of an otherwise normal pregnancy."

Laser eye surgery The eye doctor who publishes tacky LASIK ads in your local coupon book is allowed to shoot lasers into your eyeballs even if he can't check you into a hospital within 30 miles away. No, if he screws up, he'll have to call an ambulance, and an EMT will check you in, instead.

This surgery is supposed to be pretty safe anyway, but try telling that to the woman who was awarded $1.7 million by a Kentucky jury after the surgery made her go blind in one eye.

Biopsies, Cystoscopies, Toenail removal, Skin cancer lesion removal, Hernia repair, Thyroid biopsy, Tonsillectomy, Bronchoscopy, Appendectomy Tubal ligation, Esophageal-reflux surgery, Lumpectomy, Mastectomy, Benign cyst removal, Rotator Cuff repair, Shoulder Arthroscopy, etc. When the abortion legislation was still under debate in Senate, an analysis of the bill claimed that "Texas allows no other procedure to opt out of the accepted standard of care."

That's a vague enough sentence that it might technically be true. But that analysis doesn't mention that Texas has failed to single out any other common outpatient procedure to force it to take place in an ambulatory surgical center and with a hospital nearby.

In September, a doctor named Jennifer Cowart sent a letter to the state health department outlining the inconsistencies: "I am not aware of any law or rule requiring common procedures such as vasectomy, cystoscopy, colposcopy, IUD placement, subcutaneous implant placement (such as the contraceptive rod), colonoscopy with or without polypectomy,....or ANY OTHER MEDICAL OR SURGICAL PROCEDURE, to be performed in an ambulatory surgical center, rather than a clinic."

And there are plenty of outpatient procedures that perhaps shouldn't be performed just anywhere. A study by the University of Michigan last year found that 1 in 84 of high-risk patients who were treated in outpatient centers rather than hospitals suffered blood clots after the surgery.

"Once a setting for those having simple procedures, outpatient surgery now includes a greater variety of procedures from plastic surgery to cancer operations and orthopedic surgery, and not all patients are young, healthy individuals," says the study's author, Dr. Christopher J. Pannucci.

Meanwhile, the Guttmacher Institute says that less than .05 percent of abortions result in major complications.

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Amy Martyn
Contact: Amy Martyn