WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has placed a temporary block on a Louisiana law that some opine could close most of the abortion facilities in the state.
As previously reported, legislators in Louisiana passed the bill in May 2014, requiring abortionists to obtain admitting privileges should a mother become injured during an abortion and require further medical care. HB 388, proposed by Rep. Katrina Jackson (R-Monroe), passed overwhelmingly 88-5 in the Louisiana House of Representatives and 34-3 in the Senate.
“On the date the abortion is performed or induced, a physician performing or inducing an abortion shall have active admitting privileges at a hospital that is located not further than thirty miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced and that provides obstetrical or gynecological health care services,” the bill reads.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Roman Catholic, signed the bill into law soon after its passage.
But abortionists in the state, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, soon filed a legal challenge, stating that “[t]he Act will jeopardize women’s health, shutting down health centers that provide abortions without medical justification, and either eliminate or severely limit the availability of abortions in the state. As a result, many Louisiana women will be forced to carry their pregnancies to term, while other may resort to self-abortion.”
Abortion facilities in other states that have closed following the passage of identical admitting privileges laws have found that their closure was more directly due to the refusal of hospitals to work with abortionists. Facilities would remain open under the law if able to find a hospital that would accommodate them.
In January, U.S. District Judge John deGravelles agreed with the abortionists and placed an injunction on the law. But the ruling was appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned deGravelles’ injunction and allowed the regulation to move forward.
Abortionists then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reinstated the injunction on Friday—with the exception of Justice Clarence Thomas, who said he would not have blocked the law. The court suggested that the injunction might remain in place until it rules on a nearly identical case from Texas.
Melaney Linton, CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, told reporters that she was pleased with the decision.
“We have seen the devastation these laws have caused for women in Texas, who are waiting up to 20 days for an appointment or forced to travel out of state to access safe, legal abortion,” she said. “We began to see this same tragedy play out in Louisiana before the court stepped in.”
But Attorney General Jeff Landry vowed to continue to defend the regulation, stating that he believes it will be upheld in the end.
“We disagree with the court’s unexplained decision,” Landry said. “We remain confident that we will prevail on the merits. As attorney general, I will continue to defend Louisiana’s pro-life and pro-woman laws.”