April 23, 2015 — Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals this week published the final version of updated licensing standards for abortion clinics, AP/ABC News reports.
According to AP/ABC News, the finalized regulations are not substantively different than changes that were proposed in December 2014. Those changes garnered more than 1,800 public comments opposed to the proposed regulations (DeSlatte, AP/ABC News, 4/21).
In February, the state DHH said the then-proposed regulations would revise current rules to accommodate several recently enacted laws and would outline clearly the state's clinic licensing and staffing requirements. If the clinics do not comply, they could face closure. Among other rules, clinics must maintain detailed records of "every 'job skill' of every employee" and annual employee evaluations on the specific job skills.
DHH spokesperson Olivia Watkins acknowledged that some of the new requirements "are outside of the specific legislative mandates" (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/2).
Melissa Flournoy, the state's director for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, said her group is "deeply disappointed that [its] call[s] for regulations based on medicine were ignored." She said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) "administration has instead decided to risk patient health and safety by imposing further restrictions on a woman's ability to have a safe, legal abortion in" the state.
According to AP/ABC News, it is not clear whether anyone will challenge the final rules in court. Jewel Bush, a spokesperson for PPGC, said the group "is committed to protecting access to safe, legal abortion and views this as an urgent situation, and ... will explore all options" (AP/ABC News, 4/21).