March 14, 2014 — Both opponents and supporters of a Louisiana bill (HB 388) that would increase abortion restrictions say misinformation is circulating about what the bill would do, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.
The bill, introduced by state Rep. Katrina Jackson (D), would create a database that would contain anonymous statistics on the number of abortions performed in the state. In addition, the bill would require physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital located within 30 miles of the clinic where they provide abortions.
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 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.
According to the Times-Picayune, reports have circulated that the bill would restrict women's access to emergency contraception and establish a state database naming women who have had abortions. However, advocates on both sides of the abortion-rights debate said this is not accurate.
Nonetheless, abortion-rights supporters said the bill is problematic for a number of reasons, including because the stricter licensing requirements would scare physicians who occasionally perform abortions away from providing the service at all.
Ellie Schilling, a New Orleans lawyer who advises abortion providers, noted that providers face "a real problem" when trying to obtain a license, which must be approved by DHH (O'Donoghue, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/12).