Abortion providers went to federal court in Louisiana Thursday to stop a law from going into effect Monday that they say will force them to close their clinics.
The law, signed by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal in June, requires abortion doctors to have local hospital-admitting privileges so their patients can receive proper emergency care if needed.
Other states have enacted similar laws, which in some places have forced the closing of abortion clinics. Courts have upheld some admitting-privilege laws and blocked others, and legal experts expect the issue to eventually reach the Supreme Court.
Three of Louisiana’s five abortion clinics — Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Bossier City Medical Suite in Bossier City and Causeway Medical Clinic in Metairie — and two unnamed abortion doctors asked a federal judge to temporarily block the admitting-privilege law this month.
Abortion doctors have applied at hospitals for admitting privileges, but some requests are still pending, attorneys told U.S. District Court John W. deGravelles Thursday in Baton Rouge.
Attorneys for Dr. Jimmy Guidry, Louisiana state health officer and medical director of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, and Kathy Kliebert, secretary of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, told the judge the agency would not enforce the law until hospitals had issued their decisions on the applications, the News Star in Monroe, La., reported.
Judge deGravelles said he would issue a ruling Friday, but urged the parties to reach a compromise that would end the need for a temporary restraining order. Such an order is a “drastic remedy,” he said.
If the law is enforced on its effective date, “it is not at all clear that any doctor currently providing abortions at a clinic in Louisiana will be able to continue providing those services, thereby eliminating access to legal abortion in Louisiana,” the plaintiffs said in a Aug. 22 lawsuit filed by local attorneys and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The lawsuit also names as defendants Attorney General James D. Caldwell and Mark H. Dawson, president of the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners.
Mr. Caldwell’s office wasn’t immediately available for comment Thursday. According to court papers, he and other defendants have asked Judge deGravelles to dismiss the case for immunity and jurisdictional reasons.