By Angela Wills
Residents of Louisiana may soon see some changes in the way of abortion services offered in the state. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the ruling handing down by an appellate court, Louisiana will be restricted to one clinic in New Orleans, according to an abortion rights group.
There was a ruling passed down on Wednesday by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that permitted a Louisiana law to go into effect. This law requires that doctors who perform abortions have the privilege of admitting patients to a hospital that is located within 30 miles of the clinic where the abortion is being performed.
Those in support of this law say that the provisions that make these requirements necessary are in place to protect women’s health. Meanwhile, those who oppose the law say that it’s intended to make it virtually impossible for women to obtain abortions and it would work to do just that.
Representatives of the abortion clinics and doctors, the Center for Reproductive Rights, said there will be only one clinic in Louisiana that would be able to provide abortion services under this new law, unless the ruling is reversed by the Supreme Court.
The Center confirmed that the Women’s Health Care Center in New Orleans will be able to remain open because it has doctors with admitting privileges. However, two other clinics, one in Bossier City and one in Baton Rouge, had to end their abortion services. In the meantime, a fourth clinic located in Shreveport would have to end their services as well unless the Supreme Court stops the law from going into effect according to the group.
There was a fifth clinic in Metairie that closed down recently because of the law.
Abortion clinics and their doctors brought a suit against Louisiana to block the law. In January, U.S. District Judge John deGravelles in Baton Rouge barred the state from enforcing the requirement. However, his decision was overturned by the appellate court.
The effect the ruling has had on the ability of women to gain access to legal and safe abortion services has been devastating according to David Brown, staff attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The terms of the lawsuit brought against the state of Louisiana contends that doctors performing procedures other than abortions aren’t required by the state to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. It says, “Physicians perform similar, and often higher risk, outpatient procedures in their offices without admitting privileges.”
According to Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, says that it’s not difficult to obtain privileges at a hospital and not being able to do so may be an indication that they shouldn’t be performing services at an outpatient facility.