Roundup: Louisiana Clinics Fight New Abortion Restrictions

Robin Marty

Recently passed restrictions for Louisiana abortion clinics could make it "likely" that all clinics that provide abortions could lose their licenses, according to a new legal challenge.

The state of Louisiana’s new abortion clinic regulation rules, passed during the previous legislative session, were already used to shut down one clinic in the state back in early September.  Now five outpatient clinics are suing the state, claiming the law violates their right to due process.


A third challenge to Louisiana’s new abortion-clinic laws has been filed in Baton Rouge federal court.

Five abortion clinics in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Metairie and Bossier City allege in their civil suit filed Wednesday that state regulatory officials now can shut them down for any alleged violation before they can appeal that decision.

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The plaintiffs claim in their lawsuit that unlike a hospital and some other licensed medical facilities, an outpatient abortion facility no longer has the right to a suspensive appeal.

According to Courthouse News, the five clinics who have initiated the suit are the last five outpatient clinics in the state.  The other two clinics have already had their licenses suspended under the new rules:

The clinics say a newly enacted amendment, Louisiana Act 490, “makes it likely that the Department will suspend or revoke many or all of the Abortion Facility Plaintiffs’ licenses in the foreseeable future.”
     They say the “zero tolerance policy” was adopted to “close down outpatient abortion facilities regardless of whether those facilities are operating safely.”
     Under Louisiana Act 490, Greenstein no longer has to give outpatient abortion providers “notice of alleged violations and an opportunity to correct them before taking action to suspend or revoke a license,” the complaint states.
     Outpatient abortion services were governed by the same Louisiana laws that apply to hospitals, until the state enacted Act 490 on June 22.
     Louisiana has seven outpatient abortion facilities, five of which are challenging the new amendment.
     “The other two are currently subject to license revocation proceedings initiated by the Department,” according to the complaint.
     The abortion providers say they fear being shut down after inspections, partly because the state is vague about what constitutes a violation and “applies statutes and regulations inconsistently.”
     The “potentially applicable state laws or regulations are practically innumerable,” the plaintiffs claim. “On the face of the statute, a violation of any one of those laws or regulations provides grounds for the Department to revoke permanently the license of an outpatient abortion facility in Louisiana.”

If violation of due process sounds vaguely unconstitutional, well, don’t be too surprised, as most of the rest of the abortion regulations passed in the last session were considered unconstitutional, too. 

From 2theadvocate:

The same clinics and a sixth in Shreveport, Hope Medical Group for Women, sued the state in August over two other alleged unconstitutional elements of Louisiana’s new abortion laws.

One of those laws bans abortion doctors from participation in a state-run medical malpractice fund available to physicians who do not perform abortions, the clinics allege in that pending suit.

The clinics also allege in that suit that another new law unconstitutionally requires women about to undergo abortions to have ultrasound examinations and receive notice that they are entitled to photographs of those images.

Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph E. Tyson initially granted a temporary restraining order against enforcement of those two new laws.

But Tyson dissolved that order a week later after both sides agreed that state officials must provide the affected women with a list of facilities that provide free ultrasound services. Both sides also agreed the women cannot be compelled to receive an ultrasound image.

Mini Roundup: Didn’t get enough of Stupak-Pitts when they tried to kill healthcare reform?  No worries.  Stupak may not have run for reelection, but Congressman Joe Pitts is back and positioned to help lead the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.

November 19, 2010

November 18, 2010

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