Louisiana Judge Stops Pro-Life Law That Could Close Abortion Clinics Injuring Women

State   Steven Ertelt   Feb 10, 2016   |   6:08PM    Washington, DC

A Louisiana judge sided with abortion advocates Wednesday and ruled against a state law that would ensure abortion clinics are meeting basic health and safety requirements.

Baton Rouge District Judge John deGravelles blocked the law from taking effect and declared it “unconstitutional” in a Tuesday ruling, ABC News reports.

The pro-life law would protect women by ensuring that abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital, that informed consent protections apply to all abortions, and that facilities that perform more than five abortions maintain proper licensing.

Attorneys for the state immediately asked Judge John deGravelles to stay Wednesday’s order while they appeal it and his Jan. 26 finding that the law is unconstitutional.

The law requires doctors who perform abortions to be able to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles. Supporters say that would protect women’s health. Opponents say it would make it impossible to get abortions.

DeGravelles said in January that of six doctors performing abortions in Louisiana, only two meet the requirement, and one of them has said he would quit if the law is enforced.

The remaining doctor performed nearly 30 percent of all abortions in the state, deGravelles said. He said forcing the other five doctors out of their clinics would therefore leave about 70 percent of the women who want abortions unable to get one.

The pro-life law would protect women by ensuring that abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital, that informed consent protections apply to all abortions, and that facilities that perform more than five abortions maintain proper licensing.

State officials think they can defend the law at the appeals court level:

The judge has not made a final ruling in the case. January’s findings were about whether he could bar enforcement of the law until he does so. Wednesday’s preliminary injunction replaces a temporary order.

Lawyers for the state said in Wednesday’s request that they think the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will probably overturn deGravelles’ findings for two reasons.

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They said the judge’s analysis of the number of women likely to be affected used a procedure very different from the one used by the same court when it upheld a similar law in Texas. The 5th Circuit’s procedure would have indicated that the law is constitutional because more than 90 percent of all women of reproductive age are within 150 miles of an abortion clinic, the attorneys’ motion said.

They also took issue with deGravelles’ ruling that a third doctor’s privileges do not meet the law’s requirements even though Kathy Kleibert, who was then health secretary, testified that she would accept them.

Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Ben Clapper previously told LifeNews: “Not surprisingly, the abortion industry has filed suit to stop the common-sense standards put in place by HB 388. We believe it is the right of the state of Louisiana to close loopholes that allow abortion facilities to operate at a lower standard as compared to other surgical facilities.”

Clapper said that although the facilities and doctors are claiming they have not had enough time to get admitting privileges, the amount of time they had was similar to the amount of time involved in the implementation of a similar law in Texas.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear abortion advocates’ challenge of the Texas law in March.

The law is responsible for closing abortion clinics that could not guarantee they could protect the health of Texas women. It has been credited with saving the lives of more than 10,000 unborn children.

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