Way To Stand Up For The Good Doctors, Judge Sheryl McFarlin.
Dear Judge Sheryl McFarlin,
How's it going? Well, we certainly hope you're having a terrific start to your weekend, your honor. After all, you've done your constituents in Dallas County — and the citizens of Texas in general — quite the service this week.
We know that standing up for what's right can often be a thankless job, so we thought we'd drop you a line and tell you how much we appreciated what you did yesterday.
As you can probably imagine, we were pretty disheartened when we heard about the lawsuit that two local doctors were forced to bring into your court after their hospital higher-ups reprimanded them for performing abortions at other, off-site facilities. The folks behind our state's new, ultra-restrictive abortion laws probably should have figured that — despite the fact that state law explicitly forbids just such an occurrence — some of our more creative hospitals might deny admitting privileges to doctors as a way to prevent them from performing such completely legal medical procedures.
They lacked the foresight to see that far ahead, apparently.
But that's something you made up for yesterday by temporarily reinstating the doctors' privileges at the offending hospital, Dallas' University General.
We honestly have no idea where you stand on abortion from your ruling — and that’s a good thing. You made a decision that doesn't seem to be based on ideology. Instead, you affirmed law and the right of doctors to practice medicine based on their own ethical compasses, rather than ones forced on them by the state or an over-eager hospital.
However we might feel about hospital privileges being required for any doctor who performs abortions — something both the American Medical Association and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose — your protection of otherwise qualified doctors being stripped of those privileges is laudable.
It's not your fault we are where we are at this point, celebrating the smallest of reprieves when it comes to maintaining the health, agency and autonomy of Texans who might run afoul of some of the more extreme actions undertaken by our representatives in Austin. We know that we have it better than most — like, say, those in rural areas, who now have to travel hundreds of miles if their reproductive choices don't line up with the rigid dogma of those currently in power.
That's why it was so important that you pushed back. On second thought, maybe it was more of a nudge. Still, a nudge can be a powerful tool. And it definitely was in this instance, letting places like University General know that they aren't going to be able to compromise people's health because it's politically expedient.
Here's the deal: We've seen our fair share of terrible decisions by local judges around here. Now, we couldn't be happier to celebrate a good one.
Keep up the good work, Judge McFarlin.
Stephen Young and the rest of the Central Track staff