By Deanna Wallace, Louisiana Right to Life
BATON ROUGE – A federal judge struck down the 2014 Louisiana law requiring abortion clinic doctors to have admitting privileges to a hospital with obstetrical and gynecological services with 30 miles of the clinic where the abortion is performed on Jan. 26.
U.S. District Judge John deGravelles, who presided over a June trial of a lawsuit challenging the admitting privilege requirement, said the requirement in Act 620 violates the constitutional right of Louisiana women seeking abortions.
In his ruling, deGravelles wrote the admitting privileges requirement would place an undue burden on Louisiana women seeking an abortion, and issued a preliminary injunction preventing the law from being enforced against the abortion clinics involved in the challenge — Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Bossier City Medical Suite in Bossier City, and Causeway Medical Clinic in Metairie.
Upon reviewing the court’s opinion, Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life, stated the following, “Louisiana Right to Life firmly believes the admitting privileges requirement in HB 388 / Act 620 would increase the health and safety of women seeking an abortion in the state of Louisiana. The case presented by the State of Louisiana at trial furthered this argument.
“While we are disappointed in Judge deGravelles’ decision, we applaud Attorney General Jeff Landry for his commitment to appeal this ruling to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a similar Texas provision in 2014. We also appreciate Gov. John Bel Edwards for allowing a smooth transition of the case into the Attorney General’s Office.”
Deanna Wallace, Legislative Director of Louisiana Right to Life, said, “In upholding a similar admitting privilege requirement passed by the Texas Legislature, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014 found a clear ‘connection between the admitting privileges rule and the desirable protection of abortion patients’ health.’ This ruling echoed decisions by the 4th and 8th Circuit Courts, which stated that admitting privilege requirements ‘are obviously beneficial to patients’ and ‘further important state health objectives.’
“Since there are significant similarities between the relevant portions of the Texas and Louisiana laws, and the fact that both states have multiple abortion physicians with admitting privileges (unlike Mississippi), we hoped Judge deGravelles would follow the clear reasoning of the previous decisions of the 5th Circuit upholding the Texas provisions,” she continued. “Unfortunately this does not appear to be the case.”
Clapper said the DeGravelles ruling was not the end.
“We have not seen the end of the legal challenge over admitting privilege requirements,” said Clapper. “In addition to Attorney General Landry’s appeal to the 5th Circuit, it is important to note the U.S. Supreme Court will review in March a case that involves a similar Texas law, and its decision in that case may impact the Louisiana federal court ruling.
“Because of the impact the Supreme Court’s decision could have on our law, Louisiana Right to Life has been collecting the signatures of Louisiana legislators on a friend of the court brief filed in the Supreme Court by Louisiana-based co-counsel Dorinda Bordlee of Bioethics Defense Fund in support of the Texas regulations,” Clapper continued. “We remain hopeful the Supreme Court will protect the health and safety of women all over the country by upholding common sense safety measures such as admitting privilege requirements.”