BATON ROUGE, LA—Louisiana legislators came one step closer to passing a Texas-style abortion restriction by advancing a medically unnecessary bill that is designed to close women's health centers across the state. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved the bill, clearing the way for full Senate consideration of the bill, which has already passed the House.
Like the Texas law that has forced one-third of clinics in the state to close, the Louisiana bill singles out doctors who provide abortions and requires them alone to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Doctors and major medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose these laws because they do little to further patient safety. Rather, they harm women by cutting off access to safe, legal abortions.
"The women of Louisiana need more access to health care, not less," said Marjorie R. Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana. "Our legislators should devote their time to enhancing medical care rather than restricting it."
"We all want women to be safe, but this law has nothing to do with women's health. Politicians – not doctors – designed it for the sole purpose of shutting down abortion," said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project. "When the leading medical groups all oppose these laws because they put women's health at risk, we have to ask why politicians continue to pass them. Just like in Texas, women and families will suffer because some legislators insist on playing politics at the expense of women's health."
The Louisiana bill is part of a nationwide plan to pass restrictions that will shut down women's health centers and prevent women from accessing safe and legal abortions. In addition to the Texas law, which has left large portions of the state with no clinic and forced women to travel hundreds of miles to get the care they need, Mississippi, Alabama, and Wisconsin have recently passed similar laws. Those laws have been challenged. The Alabama case will go to trial May 19, and the Wisconsin case will go to trial May 27. The Mississippi law, which would force the only remaining clinic in the state to close, was argued before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on April 28. The Oklahoma legislature is considering a similar bill.
Physicians who provide abortions are often unable to obtain hospital privileges for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with their experience, qualifications, or credentials, including the hospital's opposition to abortion and the hospital's financial interests.
More information on the Alabama case can be found at: www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/planned-parenthood-southeast-inc-reproductive-health-services-et-al-v-bentley
More information on the Wisconsin case can be found at: https://www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/planned-parenthood-wisconsin-v-van-hollen