September 2, 2014 — A federal judge on Sunday temporarily blocked Louisiana from enforcing an admitting privileges law (HB 388) while some doctors are attempting to comply with it and a court challenge continues, the AP/New York Times reports. The law likely would have closed the state's five abortion clinics if it were enforced (AP/New York Times, 8/31).
The law, which took effect on Sept. 1, requires abortion providers in the state to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic where they practice (DeSlatte, AP/ABC News, 9/1).
The Center for Reproductive Rights sued the state over the law on behalf of several Louisiana abortion clinics. In the lawsuit, CRR argued that the law -- which was signed in June -- did not give abortion providers adequate time to comply and that it would impose an undue burden on women seeking abortion care (Villacorta, Politico, 9/1).
According to the AP/ABC News, CRR sued on behalf of clinics located in Shreveport, Bossier City and Metairie. Two clinics located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge did not participate in the lawsuit (AP/ABC News, 9/1).
U.S. District Judge John deGravelles on Sunday allowed the law to take effect but barred the state from penalizing abortion providers who are in the process of applying for privileges, Politico reports (Politico, 9/1).
DeGravelles said that the plaintiffs "will be allowed to operate lawfully while continuing their efforts to obtain privileges" (Kaminsky, Reuters, 8/31). He also noted that because "the applications of the doctors have not been acted upon at this time, the Court believes any undue burden that might occur if they were denied is speculative" and that evidence provided by the physicians suggesting their applications will be denied is "insufficient to carry their burden" at this time (Politico, 9/1).
DeGravelles said that he would arrange a status conference within 30 days to monitor progress on the doctors' admitting privileges applications. He said he also would schedule a hearing to reconsider the plaintiffs' request for an order to block the law at that time (AP/ABC News, 9/1).
According to Reuters, it is unclear whether deGravelles' ruling applies to all of the state's abortion clinics, or only to the plaintiffs (Reuters, 8/31).
CRR President and CEO Nancy Northup said the ruling "ensures Louisiana women are safe from an underhanded law that seeks to strip them of their health and rights." She added that CRR "continue[s] to look to the courts to uphold the Constitution and protect access to safe and legal abortion for all women regardless of where they happen to live" (Politico, 9/1).
State To Comply
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals spokesperson Olivia Watkins on Monday said that the state would comply with the ruling.
"The department's policy is in accordance with governing precedent from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and is in line with what the state offered the plaintiffs previously," she said (AP/ABC News, 9/1).