Three Louisiana abortion providers sued to block a state law requiring their doctors get hospital admitting privileges by Sept. 1, a measure they warned may force all five clinics in the state to close.
The facilities’ complaint, filed today in federal court in Baton Rouge, is the latest legal fight in southern states over a requirement proponents argue protects women’s health, and abortion providers claim is meant to restrict or eliminate access to abortions. Challenges have been mounted to similar laws in Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.
The Louisiana legislation, signed by Republican Governor Bobby Jindal in June, doesn’t allow enough time for compliance, the clinics argued in court papers. Hospitals typically need three to seven months to decide on a doctor’s application, they said. They were allowed only 81 days to comply with the law.
“It is not at all clear that any doctor currently providing abortions at a clinic in Louisiana will be able to continue providing those services, thereby eliminating access to legal abortion in Louisiana” if the law takes effect as scheduled, attorneys for the clinics in Shreveport, Bossier City and Metairie wrote.
The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion before a fetus is capable of surviving outside the womb, and said that right can’t be unduly weighed down by regulations.
“We are confident this court will see through the disingenuousness of the politicians who passed this law,” said Nancy Northup, president of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the complaint.
“The state will defend the law,” Shannon Bates, Jindal’s deputy communications director, said in an e-mailed statement. “This law protects the safety of women by ensuring they have access to critical services in emergencies, and holds them to similar standards as other surgical facilities.”
The case is June Medical Services LLC v. Caldwell, 3:14-cv-525, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge).