On Wednesday, a federal appeals court panel ruled that a 2014 Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital passes constitutional muster.
The 2-1 ruling reverses the 2017 ruling of federal district court Judge John deGravelles, who had blocked the law.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel distinguished Louisiana Unsafe Abortion Protection Act (Act 620) from the Texas-based facts at issue in the Supreme Court’s 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision, concluding that it does not impose the same “substantial burden” on women as the Texas law.
“The Fifth Circuit’s Wednesday ruling said the facts in the Louisiana case are ‘remarkably different,’ from those in Whole Women’s Health, because the situation in Texas is different than in Louisiana,” according to Courthouse News.
Writing for the majority, Judge Jerry Smith noted that unlike Texas, the Louisiana rule is unlikely to force any clinics to close. “Here, only one doctor at one clinic is currently unable to obtain privileges; there is no evidence than any of the clinics will close as a result of the Act,” he wrote.
“Louisiana Right to Life celebrates the 5th Circuit decision upholding Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act as a victory for women’s health and safety,” said Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life. “Ever since we began working with State Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) to introduce HB 388 in 2014, 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. Our law should never create special loopholes so that abortion facilities can operate in a sub-standard manner. These facilities and their physicians should be held to the same standard as all outpatient surgical facilities.”
Clapper concluded, “Louisiana Right to Life commends Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill for their persistent leadership in defending Louisiana’s bipartisan 2014 law, especially in the face of other states choosing to dismiss their defense of similar admitting privileges laws.”
Dorinda Bordlee, Senior Counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund, added, “In light of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that unjustly struck down a similar Texas admitting privileges law, today’s 5th Circuit ruling is a huge win. 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. This pro-woman, pro-life legislation recognizes the reality that abortion endangers the lives of both women and children.”