Louisiana Abortion Law Temporarily Blocked
A federal judge has temporarily blocked a Louisiana law that advocates say would likely have closed of all five abortion clinics in the state.
The measure, signed into law by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in June and due to take effect Sept. 1, would require doctors who perform abortions to have patient admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice.
This ruling means that for now doctors can continue to perform legal abortions while seeking to obtain admitting privileges. A hearing will be held at a later date for the judge to make a more permanent ruling on the law.
"Plaintiffs will be allowed to operate lawfully while continuing their efforts to obtain privileges," Federal Judge John deGravelles wrote in the decision.
Abortion rights activists applauded the decision, the latest in a string of rulings against similar measures, saying it would give abortion doctors more time to seek the hospital privileges.
"Today's ruling ensures Louisiana women are safe from an underhanded law that seeks to strip them of their health and rights," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which sued to block the law on behalf of three of the state's five clinics.
Louisiana is among 11 states that have passed similar laws, with courts recently ruling unconstitutional such measures in Alabama and Mississippi. Key parts of Texas law that would have shuttered most remaining clinics in that state was blocked by a federal judge on Friday.
Only one doctor (a Shreveport area doctor) who performs abortions in Louisiana currently has hospital admitting privileges.
If all other doctors in the state are forced to stop performing abortions, that doctor, fearful for his safety, might stop carrying out the procedure, the group said.