Louisiana Suspects Abortion Biz in Major Supreme Court Case is Hiding Criminal Activity

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 20, 2019   |   3:45PM   |   Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The Louisiana Department of Justice suspects that criminal activity may have happened at the abortion business in the center of a high-profile abortion case involving the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Monday, the department issued a press release, saying the Hope Medical Group abortion business hid evidence of criminal and professional misconduct from the Supreme Court as it challenges a state abortion clinic regulation law.

“I am deeply concerned about the basic health and safety of Louisiana women,” Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill said in a statement. “And Hope’s continued efforts to hide this information from the Supreme Court and to block reporting to proper authorities casts serious doubt on Hope and its abortion providers’ claims that it represents the interests of Louisiana women.”

At issue before the Supreme Court is a state law that requires abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges for patient emergencies. The high court agreed to take the case in October.

The Supreme Court struck down a similar Texas law in 2016, arguing it burdened women’s access to abortion. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Louisiana law in 2018, saying it “does not impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women.”

The latest criminal allegations add another element of concern to the already closely watched case.

According to the state prosecutors, the potential criminal activity that they discovered normally would prompt a criminal referral. However, a federal judge sealed many of the documents and information in the case, making their ability to prosecute difficult, according to the department.

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“As [Department of Justice] officers, if we learn of potentially criminal activity during litigation, we have a legal obligation to report it to criminal investigators and licensing authorities,” Murrill said. “We also have a basic legal duty to protect the public from dangerous behavior when we learn of it. Shockingly, Hope Medical Group is refusing to unseal this evidence and permit us to carry out our legal duties.”

Neither she nor the department disclosed any details about the nature of the criminal allegations.

Ben Clapper, the executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, told LifeNews he’s upset the abortion facility is hiding behind the court system.

“It is appalling that this Shreveport abortion business can hide their potentially illegal activity behind federal judges.  For years, abortion businesses across Louisiana have been found to be in violation of state law, placing the health and safey of women in jeopardy.  It is no surprise that the Attorney General’s office has uncovered even more dangerous activity. We ask the 5th Circuit to unseal these records so proper law enforcement can proceed in Louisiana,” he said.

Hope Medical Group in Shreveport has a history of failing to meet basic health and safety standards. In 2010, state health department officials said they found “significant health and safety risks to clients” and recommended that its license be revoked; but a judge blocked the state from closing the facility. Hope Medical Group aborts unborn babies up to 16 weeks of pregnancy.

The Center for Reproductive Rights also is involved in the lawsuit at the Supreme Court.

The Louisiana law, which passed in 2014, requires doctors who do abortions to have hospital admitting privileges for patient emergency situations. Pro-life Democrat state Rep. Katrina Jackson wrote the legislation.

The law was supposed to take effect earlier this year and could have closed abortion facilities that could not protect women’s health. But Chief Justice John Roberts joined the high court’s pro-abortion minority to prohibit the state from implementing the law, over the dissent of Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Oddly, Roberts joined the pro-life side when the Supreme Court ruled on a similar Texas law.

The law could have closed shoddy abortion facilities that are not prepared to help patients suffering from emergency complications. There are three abortion facilities in Louisiana: Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport.

“Together with my colleagues, our Legislature passed the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act by a wide bipartisan margin to protect the health and safety of women,” Jackson said, previously. “We encourage the Supreme Court to overturn, or at least, alter or clarify, the Hellerstedt decision, allowing a state to enforce its duly enacted laws aimed at protecting the health and safety of its citizens. Abortion has known medical risks, and the women of this state who are often coerced into abortion deserve to have the same standard of care required for other surgical procedures.”