La. Rescinds Controversial Rules That Threatened Abortion Clinics

February 4, 2014 — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) administration on Monday announced that it had rescinded a set of abortion regulations that could have threatened to close the state's five abortion clinics, the AP/KATC reports (Deslatte, AP/KATC, 2/4).

The Jindal administration withdrew the rules out of concern that unclear language would have left the state vulnerable to a legal challenge, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The state plans to release revised rules at a later date.

The rules would have required abortion clinics to include larger rooms in new or renovated facilities and hire more specialized staff members, while making it more difficult for a clinic that has lost its license to appeal the decision, the Times-Picayune reports. The rules originally also included a requirement that a woman undergo a blood test 30 days prior to an abortion, but the Jindal administration last week said it intended to drop that requirement amid controversy over the rule.

The administration had scheduled a hearing on the rules for Feb. 4. Although the rules were enacted on an emergency basis in November, the meeting was required before making them permanent.

State's Comments

State Department of Health and Hospitals spokesperson Olivia Watkins said in a statement, "We withdrew the rules and the emergency rule in order to correct the language governing the licensure of outpatient abortion facilities before proceeding." She added, "We intend to issue a new set of proposed rules with a notice of intent in the future for public comment" (O'Donoghue, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 2/4).