BATON ROUGE, La. — Five Louisiana abortion facilities have filed a lawsuit against officials in the state to challenge a new hospital admitting privileges law that some believe will shutter at least three, if not all of the five facilities.
As previously reported, legislators in Louisiana passed the bill in May, 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 now, abortionists in Louisiana have filed a legal challenge over the matter, stating that the government has not apportioned sufficient time to comply with the law, which goes into effect on September 1, and that it will make abortion obsolete in the state.
“If the [requirement] is enforced on its effective date of September 1, 2014, it is not at all clear that any doctor currently providing abortions at a clinic in Louisiana will be able to continue providing those services, thereby eliminating access to legal abortion in Louisiana,” the lawsuit asserts.
“The 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,” it states. “As a result, many Louisiana women will be forced to carry their pregnancies to term, while other may resort to self-abortion.”
However, 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.
“They were clear that they didn’t deal with abortion and they didn’t want the internal or the external pressure of dealing with it,” administrator Diane Derzis of Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Mississippi told reporters last year. Mississippi has a similar law that has been challenged in the courts, which was struck down by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last month–the same court that would handle the Louisiana lawsuit if the case proceeds past the district court.
As previously reported, 20 abortion facilities in Texas have closed—or have announced their closure—following the passage of identical admitting privileges requirements. According to a USA Today report, only half a dozen abortion facilities might still be open by the end of this year, which is a significant decrease from the 41 facilities operating in the state just three years ago.
The Texas abortion privileges law remains intact although it is also under the jurisdiction of the Fifth Circuit.