BATON ROUGE, La. — The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit in Baton Rouge last week targeting Louisiana’s abortion facility licensing law and other health and safety regulations.
The group sued on behalf of Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport and three anonymous abortionists who say the Louisiana laws run counter to last year’s Supreme Court decision Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
Last June’s ruling determined a Texas law requiring abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges and mandating abortion facilities meet ambulatory surgical center standards created an unconstitutional undue burden on abortion access.
“Louisiana has done exactly what the United States Constitution and Whole Woman’s Health forbid,” the suit stated.
Louisiana Right to Life Federation’s executive director Benjamin Clapper said the regulations are “common sense,” and the lawsuit, if successful, would impose an “abortion-on-demand policy in our pro-life state.”
“If the abortion facility succeeds in this suit, the consequences would be disastrous,” Clapper said. “Abortion facilities would have no guidelines in Louisiana, giving them license to maximize both their profit margin and do whatever necessary to increase the number of abortions they sell.”
The lawsuit seeks to overturn Louisiana’s 2001 requirement that abortion centers obtain a state license before performing abortions. The law gives the state health department authority to revoke an abortion license if it finds health and safety violations.
Hope Medical Group’s administrator Kathaleen Pittman said that since then, eight of the state’s 11 abortion facilities have closed.
The Center for Reproductive Rights’ Nancy Northrup said the organization is also targeting laws that allow government reviews of medical records of women who have abortions or require abortionists to inform women that abortion is linked to breast cancer.
In 2010, the state suspended Hope Medical Group’s license for numerous health and safety violations. Several abortion facilities filed suit against the law, but a federal court upheld it in 2011.
Hope Medical Group also sued last July to challenge a state law forbidding fetal tissue donation and instituting a waiting period for women seeking abortion. That lawsuit is pending.
Last week’s action comes on the heels of similar lawsuit in Arkansas. That suit challenges a ban on dismemberment abortion and a family notification law, among others.
Clapper said that, given the unproductivity of previous challenges to Louisiana’s laws, his organization is calling for a quick dismissal of the suit as a waste of time and resources.
District attorney James Stewart, named as a defendant in last week’s suit, has not yet issued a statement on the case, but his office said it “is confident the laws are constitutional.”
— by Samantha Gobba