Judge Stops State’s Enforcement of HB 388

Editor’s note. The following update comes from Louisiana Right to Life, NRLC’s state affiliate.

Judge John deGravelles

Judge John deGravelles

Last week, seven months after a six-day trial that included testimony from both the plaintiffs of the abortion industry and the defendants from the state of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals, U.S. District Judge John deGravelles issued his ruling regarding the preliminary fate of Louisiana’s 2014 HB 388 / Act 620.

In the ruling, deGravelles found that the admitting privileges requirement would place an undue burden on Louisiana women seeking an abortion, and he issued a preliminary injunction preventing the law from being enforced against the clinics involved in the challenge: Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Bossier City Medical Suite in Bossier City, and Causeway Medical Clinic in Metairie.

Upon reviewing the court’s opinion, Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life, said:

“Louisiana Right to Life firmly believes the admitting privileges requirement in HB 388 / Act 620 would increase the health and safety of women seeking an abortion in the state of Louisiana. The case presented by the State of Louisiana at trial furthered this argument. While we are disappointed in Judge deGravelles’ decision, we applaud Attorney General Jeff Landry for his commitment to appeal this ruling to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a similar Texas provision in 2014. We also appreciate Gov. John Bel Edwards for allowing a smooth transition of the case into the Attorney General’s Office.”

Deanna Wallace, Legislative Director of Louisiana Right to Life, made the following comments on legal matters at hand:

“In upholding a similar admitting privilege requirement passed by the Texas Legislature, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014 found a clear ‘connection between the admitting privileges rule and the desirable protection of abortion patients’ health.’ This ruling echoed decisions by the 4th and 8th Circuit Courts, which stated that admitting privilege requirements ‘are obviously beneficial to patients’ and ‘further important state health objectives.’ Since there are significant similarities between the relevant portions of the Texas and Louisiana laws, and the fact that both states have multiple abortion physicians with admitting privileges (unlike Mississippi), we hoped Judge deGravelles would follow the clear reasoning of the previous decisions of the 5th Circuit upholding the Texas provisions. Unfortunately this does not appear to be the case.”

Clapper said the legal challenge over the admitting privileges law is not over.

“In addition to Attorney General Landry’s appeal to the 5th Circuit, it is important to note that the U.S. Supreme Court will review in March a case that involves a similar Texas law, and its decision in that case may impact the Louisiana federal court ruling. We remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will protect the health and safety of women all over the country by upholding common sense safety measures such as admitting privilege requirements.”