Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards answered pleas Thursday to close abortion facilities that still may be operating in violation of his emergency order restricting non-essential medical procedures.
The News Star reports the pro-life Democrat governor and Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry announced that they are working to ensure the abortion facilities in Shreveport, Baton Rouge and New Orleans are complying during the health crisis.
“[The Louisiana Department of Health] and Interim Secretary Stephen Russo have requested our assistance with enforcing their important public health orders, such as those requiring the suspension of elective, non-emergency medical procedures,” Landry said Thursday.
He said any failure to comply puts patients and staff at risk. Landry said entities that refuse to follow the order also are keeping much-needed medical supplies from medical professionals who are working hard to save lives from the coronavirus.
“My COVID-19 Task Force is ready for action and currently receiving referrals from LDH on possible violations. We are happy to be doing our part to protect the health and safety of all Louisianans by freeing up essential LDH resources and employees that are indispensable on the front-lines of this fight,” he said.
According to Louisiana Right to Life, eyewitnesses saw state officials go into the abortion facilities in Baton Rouge and Shreveport on Thursday. Landry’s office later confirmed that they were there.
Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, said abortion facilities must comply with the same rules that non-essential medical facilities are following during the crisis.
“There should be no abortion loopholes to the health and safety regulations needed to fight COVID-19,” Clapper said. “These abortion facilities are endangering us all and placing their profits over public health. We are grateful to the attorney general’s office for taking necessary steps to investigate these violations of emergency rules.”
On March 22, Edwards issued an executive order temporarily restricting all medical and surgical procedures unless they are to treat an “emergency medical condition.” It also closed all non-essential businesses, restricted travel and prohibited large gatherings.
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Initially, it appeared that all three abortion facilities in the state were complying with the order. However, pro-life advocates later learned that at least one still was aborting unborn babies in elective abortions: Hope Medical Clinic in Shreveport. The abortion facility is the same entity challenging a state health regulation to protect patients with emergency complications at the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Thursday, Louisiana Right to Life said the abortion facility in New Orleans appears to be open again, too.
Barley a week after Edwards’ order, the pro-life group Live Action released footage and transcripts exposing that Hope Medical Group is doing abortions in defiance of the coronavirus health restrictions.
In two recorded phone calls on March 26, Hope Medical Group employees told Live Action investigators that they are open, saying, “Currently we are the only facility that I know anywhere nearby that’s open and operating, and we’ll stay open and operating as long as possible.”
Earlier this week, John Milkovich, a pro-life Democrat who served in the Louisiana Senate through 2019, sent an open letter to the governor and Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins, urging them to take action and force the abortion facilities to comply.
“With the abortions shut down or slowed down in Texas and Mississippi, many people are coming to Louisiana for us to do their abortions,” Milkovich said. “… Hope Medical facility apparently believes it is above the law; that it can rewrite the definition of ‘essential’ activity to include the termination of pregnancies; and that no one in Louisiana can or will stop them from aborting babies in the midst of a public health crisis …”
He told One News Now that he believes it’s greed that is motivating abortion facilities to stay open and waste precious medical supplies that are needed elsewhere.
“Shreveport’s abortion facility should have been shut down two weeks ago when the governor forbade non-essential activity and the congregation of 10 or more persons,” Milkovich wrote.
He pointed out that the governor and mayor have a legal right to do so based on a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Tuesday upholding a similar restriction by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. All abortion facilities in Texas currently are closed, and Louisiana is in the Fifth Circuit jurisdiction.
In the on-going health crisis, a number of pro-life governors have included elective abortions in their restrictions on non-essential health care. Some have been blocked by court orders after abortion facilities filed lawsuits. Abortion businesses in Ohio also have been refusing to comply with an order from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to stop killing babies in abortions.