Lawsuit alleges clinic donated fetal tissue without woman’s consent

A woman who underwent an abortion at Southwestern Women’s Options is suing the Albuquerque clinic for allegedly not informing her and receiving permission before providing fetal tissue from her terminated pregnancy for research at the University of New Mexico. The lawsuit, filed late last month in district court in Albuquerque, also accuses the clinic’s director, Curtis Boyd, and physician, Carmen Landau, of negligence for not informing Jessica Duran the fetal tissue would be donated for medical research. Landau, according to the lawsuit, treated Duran when she underwent an abortion in October 2012. “Women are supposed to be informed, supposed to be given information about the nature of the research, the benefits of the research, and given the opportunity to decide what happens,” Elisa Martinez, executive director of New Mexico Alliance for Life, which supports the lawsuit but is not part of the legal proceeding, said in an interview. Related: GOP congressional panel wants abortion investigation in NM

Martinez described the lawsuit as “a result” of public records requests Alliance for Life made with UNM and a congressional panel’s investigation into the Albuquerque health clinic.

GOP congressional panel wants abortion investigation in NM

The chairwoman of a U.S. congressional panel wants New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas to investigate whether practices at two clinics here break state law. Specifically, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, claims that the fetal tissue donation policies at the University of New Mexico and Southwest Women’s Options are breaking a 2007 state law. That law, known as the Spradling Act, regulates body part and organ donations for science. In a press release, the U.S House Select Panel on Infant Rights claims that “under the Spradling Act the bodies or parts of aborted infants may not be anatomical gifts.”

“Documentation obtained by the Panel in the course of our investigation reflects the transfer of fetal tissue from Southwestern Women’s Options to UNM for research purposes is a systematic violation of New Mexico’s Spradling Act,” Blackburn said in the release. But the actual provision of the law Blackburn cited about abortion occurs under the law’s definition of “decedent,” which in other words means a dead person.

UNM Hospital will see biggest Medicaid cuts

News that the state Human Services Department is planning to cut between $26 million and $33.5 million through how much the state pays for Medicaid provider payment rates filled healthcare advocates with grief, if not surprise, this week. It’s how the state agency is saving the biggest cuts—which will affect Medicaid payment rates for doctors, hospitals and dentists—for New Mexico’s biggest hospital that’s causing the most controversy in some circles. By this July, the state plans on cutting Medicaid payments at the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) to inpatient services by 8 percent and outpatient services by 5 percent. That’s bigger than the 5 percent inpatient and 3 percent outpatient Medicaid cuts that the rest of the hospitals in the state will see. Lorie MacIver, a UNMH nurse and president of District 1199 of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, says the cuts will disproportionately hurt UNMH patients because the hospital is the only Level 1 trauma center in New Mexico equipped to treat the most serious injuries and health conditions.

UNM dermatology department loses accreditation

A handful of doctor residents University of New Mexico hospital may have to find a new place to finish their residency. The university confirmed Friday that its Department of Dermatology lost its accreditation. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education recently withdrew UNM’s dermatology department’s accreditation, effective June 30, according to the agency’s website. UNM’s website lists five doctors currently under the dermatology residency, three of whom won’t finish their residencies before the dermatology department’s accreditation expires. Billy Sparks is a spokesman for UNM’s Health Sciences Center, which includes the university’s School of Medicine.