Court Upholds Louisiana Law That Could Close Shoddy Abortion Clinics

State   Micaiah Bilger   Sep 27, 2018   |   9:46AM    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

A federal appeals court upheld a Louisiana law Wednesday that requires abortion facilities to meet basic health and safety standards.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said there is “no evidence” that the law will burden women’s access to abortion, rejecting abortion activists’ claim, according to The Hill.

The 2014 law requires abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges in case patients experience emergency complications. Soon after it became law, the Louisiana abortion facility Hope Medical Group for Women and the Center for Reproductive Rights challenged it in court.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar Texas law in 2016, arguing it burdened women’s access to abortion. However, the Fifth Circuit panel said the Louisiana law is different because it “does not impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women.”

Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, said the ruling is a victory for women’s health and safety.

“.. the goal of requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals was always about protecting women by ensuring the continuity of care in cases of emergency,” Clapper said. “Our law should never create special loopholes so that abortion facilities can operate in a sub-standard manner.”

He thanked state Attorney General Jeff Landry and Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill for defending the protections.

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Here’s more from Reuters:

The two judges who upheld the provision, both appointed by Republican presidents, ruled that the Louisiana law, “does not impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women.” They said that only 30 percent of women seeking an abortion would face a potential burden of increased wait times.

In his dissent, Judge Patrick Higginbotham, also a Republican appointee, said the panel failed to meaningfully apply the undue burden test as articulated by the Supreme Court.

Dorinda Bordlee, senior counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund, said the Supreme Court ruling on the Texas law was “unjust,” and the Fifth Circuit ruling is a huge win for women.

“The abortion industry has failed in its attempt to use the federal courts to undermine customary health standards for women who are physically injured by the known medical risks of abortion, such as uterine puncture or cervical tearing,” Bordlee said. “This pro-woman, pro-life legislation recognizes the reality that abortion endangers the lives of both women and children.”

It is not clear if or when the law will be allowed to be enforced. The pro-abortion groups have not said yet if they will appeal. In 2017, a federal court judge ruled against the law, prompting the state to appeal to the Fifth Circuit.