January 16, 2015 — A federal judge in Louisiana on Thursday said he will not drop a temporary order barring the state from enforcing an admitting privileges law (HB 388) while a legal challenge against the statute continues, the AP/Miami Herald reports (AP/Miami Herald, 1/15).
The law requires abortion providers at the five clinics in the state to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the facility where they practice.
Abortion clinics in Shreveport, Bossier City and Metairie filed suit against the law in August 2014. Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge and Women's Health Center in New Orleans filed a separate suit against the law the following month.
In August 2014, District Judge John deGravelles said the law could take effect as scheduled on Sept. 1, 2014, but he granted a temporary restraining order that blocks the state from enforcing the law. Specifically, the judge said the state could not penalize abortion providers who are in the process of applying for admitting privileges.
Last month, the Baton Rouge and New Orleans clinics requested their suit be dismissed, a move that attorney Ellie Schilling said was solely for cost reasons. DeGravelles had been considering the clinics' suit together with the lawsuit filed by the three other clinics in the state. The suit filed by the other three clinics will remain intact. DeGravelles has scheduled a trial in the case to start on March 30 (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/10/14).
On Thursday, deGravelles ruled that the order will remain in effect until the March 30 hearing, at which time he will consider whether to maintain the hold until a final verdict is reached.
According to the AP/Miami Herald, deGravelles had asked the lawyers whether the Baton Rouge and New Orleans clinics' decision to drop their suit should affect the hold.
He wrote in the ruling that he discovered just one of the six physicians who perform abortions in the state has the required admitting privileges, while the remaining five had applied for them. In addition, deGravelles said he learned that if the five physicians were denied the privileges, the sixth doctor would stop performing abortion out of fear for his safety. DeGravelles wrote that if that occurred, women in the state would be denied their constitutional right to abortion (AP/Miami Herald, 1/15).