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Louisiana Governor Signs Omnibus Anti-Abortion Bill

Teddy Wilson

Modeled after a Texas law that was signed last summer, HB 388 requires abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic where they perform abortions, imposes a forced 24-hour waiting period on surgical abortions, and reduces the number of abortions a doctor must perform in a given year to be considered an abortion provider.

On Thursday, Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law an anti-choice omnibus bill that was one of his legislative priorities during the just ended state legislative session.

Jindal signed the bill, HB 388, at First Baptist Church in West Monroe, home of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe).

Modeled after a Texas law that was signed last summer, HB 388 requires abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic where they perform abortions. A forced 24-hour waiting period on surgical abortions will also be implemented, and the number of abortions a doctor must perform in a given year to be considered an abortion provider will be greatly reduced.

Proponents of the legislation say the restrictions will protect women’s health and make abortions safer, despite overwhelming evidence that abortion is already safe and highly regulated in the United States. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Medical Association (AMA) oppose requiring admitting privileges for abortion providers, finding “there is no medical basis to require abortion providers to have local hospital admitting privileges.”

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“We all want women to be safe, but this law doesn’t protect women’s health,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project. “In fact, major medical groups like ACOG and AMA oppose these laws because they actually harm women by preventing them from getting high quality medical care. Given that doctors and medical groups oppose these laws, we have to ask ourselves why some politicians are pushing them?”

Neither side disputes that the consequences of the law will be to limit access to reproductive health care in the state. At least three, and perhaps four, of the five clinics that provide abortion services will be forced to close under the new legislation, according to reproductive rights advocates who are worried about the consequences the new law will have for women and families throughout the state and the region.

“What is happening in Louisiana is part of a dangerous national trend,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “With these same dangerous restrictions enacted in neighboring states, the United States is becoming a country where a woman’s ability to make personal medical decisions without interference from politicians will be dependent upon where she happens to live. That cannot be what the Supreme Court intended when it established a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion more than 40 years ago.“

Louisiana joins other states that have followed Texas’ lead. Many of these types of targeted regulations of abortion providers (TRAP) laws that have passed in other states are currently being litigated in the courts. Louisiana is part of a trend among Southern states to restrict access to safe, legal abortion care in the last few years by passing laws that have closed clinics, leaving women in the region with few options.

In Texas, the lack of access to reproductive health care in the Rio Grande Valley and East Texas has already had devastating effects.

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