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Louisiana Can’t Enforce GOP’s Clinic Closure Law, Court Rules

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The decision keeps in place an early ruling preventing the former Jindal administration from enforcing a Texas-style clinic shutdown law.

A federal district court judge on Tuesday continued to block a Louisiana law that advocates claim would have closed all but one abortion provider in the state.

The ruling comes more than a year after the same court blocked enforcement of Act 620, which required physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges to local hospitals.

Former Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) signed Act 620, formerly known as HB 388, into law in June 2014. Reproductive rights advocates challenged the requirement in August, arguing it was impossible to comply with and unduly burdened abortion rights.

The GOP-backed measure provided 81 days for doctors to obtain the required admitting privileges, which can take anywhere from 90 days to seven months to obtain, depending on each hospital’s process.

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“Though today’s ruling is a victory, we know that the existing Louisiana laws regulating abortion care are onerous, medically unnecessary, and impact access to abortion care, particularly for young women, low-income women, and women of color,” Sylvia Cochran, New Orleans Abortion Fund board member, said in a statement. “While we celebrate this ruling, we know that abortion remains inaccessible to many, and we will continue to advocate for access to reproductive health care.”

Tuesday’s ruling comes just two months after the Supreme Court agreed to review a similar Texas clinic shutdown law which advocates claim is poised to leave the nation’s second largest state with ten or fewer abortion clinics.

“Clinic shutdown laws like those in Louisiana and Texas threaten to leave women with a patchwork of rights across the US that is troublingly reminiscent of the days before Roe vWade,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “Politicians cannot be allowed to sneak around the constitution and rob women of their ability to obtain safe and legal abortion.”

This is the second reproductive rights challenge before Judge John deGravelles, who issued Tuesday’s order. The judge is also hearing a challenge to efforts by the former Jindal administration to cut Planned Parenthood clinics from the state’s Medicaid program. In November deGravelles issued a temporary order blocking those efforts. That case is on appeal before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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