Fed abortion trial update: Doctor says ER knows best on follow-u - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Abortion doctor: More safe than penicillin shot


The ACLU and Planned Parenthood called Dr. Paul Fine to the witness stand to start Wednesday's proceedings at the Montgomery Federal Courthouse. Fine is a board certified OBGYN who conducts a wide range of procedures including abortion care.

He's currently on the faculty of Baylor Medical College in Texas and is also the Medical Director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

Fine testified that he has and continues to perform both surgical and medicine abortions. He said the typical surgical procedure takes approximately two minutes and that it does not require general anesthesia. He said a medicinal abortion, which consists of two separate pills, could be done in minutes as well.

[ALSO READ: AL abortion law under microscope in federal court 5/19/14]

On the safety of abortion procedures, Fine confirmed the validity of data from the Centers for Disease Control and other associations that the risk of death and complication from abortion care is less so than that of colonoscopy and other gastrointestinal care. He also argued that the hospital admitting privileges requirement for abortion doctors could actually harm women.

"As safe as a shot of penicillin," Fine told the court.

The accepted data included that about six in ten thousand women have complications stemming from abortion procedures.

Fine described the new requirement of hospital admitting privileges as a burden that didn't put the needs of women first. He contended that standard emergency room care was more than adequate for a woman who suffered complications following abortion care.

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood also had Dr. Fine reiterate that obtaining staff privileges is not a simple process, and something as simple as the withdrawal of an application could be a "black eye" of sorts on someone's professional record. In many cases, obtaining privileges requires that the doctor live in the immediate area of the hospital and bring patients regularly that financially benefit the hospital.

He said it's not necessary for the abortion doctor to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and to follow a patient directly because that could in fact get in the way of care. Fine added that some EMT services will only take a patient to the nearest hospital rather than to a hospital recommended by an abortion clinic.

Continuing with the comparison to colonoscopy procedures, Fine said, "I'm not aware of any procedure that requires a physician to have admitting privileges."

When attorneys for the Attorney General asked Fine questions, they focused on the notion of continuity of care. Fine said having the doctor follow the patient directly, even in emergencies, was unnecessary while attorneys for the AG argued it wasn't optimal healthcare.

Attorneys for the state also contended that the woman's state of mind would be disregarded without her abortion doctor present in the event of complications. Fine told the court that the woman's state of mind and future reproductive goals, as it was asked, were irrelevant in the case of making sure bleeding or other issues were tended to properly.

Later in the day there were some technical difficulties in obtaining the testimony of one of the state's experts, a doctor in North Carolina who was attempting to conference into the Montgomery courthouse.

Attorneys for the ACLU took issue with the fact that the doctor opted to testify from his home, instead of a federal courthouse in North Carolina. The doctor did not want to allow an ACLU staff member in North Carolina to be present during his testimony and cross examination. 

The Solicitor General of the State of Alabama, Andrew Brasher, banged his head against the courtroom podium, "because of the technical difficulties," he said.

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