April 2, 2014 — The Louisiana House on Monday passed a bill (HB 388) that would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles, among other regulations, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports (O'Donoghue, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/31).
The bill, introduced by state Rep. Katrina Jackson (D), also would create a database that would contain anonymous statistics on the number of abortions performed in the state.
The measure also would require physicians who provide abortions only occasionally to acquire a license from the state if they perform more than five abortions annually, up from more than five monthly under current rules. The doctors' names, locations and status as an abortion provider would be public information.
Further, the bill would extend the state's restrictions on surgical abortions to apply to medication abortions. For example, women seeking medication abortions would face a mandatory delay of 24 hours after requesting the drugs. Medication abortions also would have to be reported to the state Department of Health and Hospitals under the bill (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/14).
The state House on Monday approved the bill in an 85-6 vote, with many of the state's Democratic lawmakers joining Republicans to advance the legislation. The measure -- which is supported by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) -- now proceeds to the state Senate (Deslatte, AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/31).
According to opponents of the measure, the bill likely would close three of the state's five abortion clinics. Only two clinics in the Shreveport area would be able to meet the bill's requirements and remain operational (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/31).
Similar laws have been enacted in North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah, and lawmakers in Oklahoma are considering such a measure, Reuters reports (Finn, Reuters, 3/31).
Jackson, in introducing the bill on the floor, said it "is about the safety of women and making sure that every physician performing surgeries, including abortions, does so in a prudent manner and with a woman's health in mind."
However, Melissa Flournoy, state director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, said, "The intent of this legislation is to restrict access to safe, legal abortion, plain and simple" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/31).
Noting that other states have adopted similar measures, Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, said, "Now the effort is to simply adopt enough abortion restrictions so that clinics can't keep their doors open and women can't navigate all the legal barriers put in their way" (Reuters, 3/31).