June 13, 2014 — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on Thursday signed into law two bills restricting abortion providers, including one (HB 388) that critics say could close three of the states' five abortion clinics, Reuters reports (Kaminsky, Reuters, 6/12).
HB 388 requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. It also will create a database with anonymous statistics on the number of abortions performed in the state.
In addition, the new law requires physicians 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 will be public information. Further, the law will extend the state's restrictions on surgical abortions to apply to medication abortions (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/22).
The second measure (HB 305) Jindal signed into law bars employees or representatives of abortion providers and their affiliates from instructing, speaking or distributing information pertaining to reproductive health or family planning at public or charter schools (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/28).
Impact of Admitting Privileges Law
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the admitting privileges requirement -- which is scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1 -- threatens to close the Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge, the Women's Healthcare Center in New Orleans and a clinic in Metairie.
Sylvia Cochran, administrator for both the Delta Clinic and Women's Healthcare Center, said that physicians at both facilities are trying to obtain admitting privileges but likely will be unable to comply with the law (Lane, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 6/12).
Ellie Schilling, an attorney who represents abortion clinics in New Orleans, said there "will certainly be a court challenge to the [law's] constitutionality." She said that the law unconstitutionally restricts a woman's right to a safe and legal abortion by imposing standards that clinics are unable to meet, forcing them to shut down.
Schilling added that while the clinics are assessing "their litigation strategy," they will try also "to comply with the law" before the Sept. 1 deadline (Shuler, Baton Rouge Advocate, 6/13).
Jindal in signing the measures said, "These new laws will give women the health and safety protections they deserve, and continue to make Louisiana a state that values individual human life."
However, Jennifer Dalven, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project, said, "We all want women to be safe, but this law doesn't protect women's health" (Reuters, 6/12).
Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said in a statement, "With these same restrictions enacted in neighboring states, the United States is becoming a country where a woman's ability to make personal medical decisions without interference from politicians will be dependent upon where she happens to live" (Baton Rouge Advocate, 6/13).