Louisiana The Latest Battleground Over Controversial Abortion Law

By: Anna Werner
By: Anna Werner

The governor of Louisiana says he will sign a bill that will likely close most abortion clinics in the state.

Louisiana is the fifth state to adopt a law that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Opponents say the laws are designed solely to close abortion facilities. Supporters say they make health care safer.

Louisiana's house passed the bill by a vote of 88 to 5.

Democrat Katrina Jackson sponsored the legislation.

"It ensures that physicians that do abortions in Louisiana do so in a safe manner and they are also held to the same standards as any other physician doing surgeries in this state," said Jackson.

Dr. Radha Raman does not perform abortions, but she worries because the bill could force at least three of the five abortion facilities in Louisiana to close.

"The thing is, you're decreasing the access to care by a big percentage," she said.

Often, doctors in abortion clinics do not have local admitting privileges because they travel from town to town to do the procedure.

Raman expects her patients in New Orleans may have to drive 300 miles away to Shreveport for abortion services.

"They're going to be overwhelmed over there, they could be booked out for months," said Raman.

Louisiana's bill is modeled after laws in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Wisconsin.

It includes measures similar to those suggested by anti-abortion groups including Americans United for Life, who's model legislation representative Jackson closely reviewed.

Jackson recognizes that the point of many of these bills in these states is to limit and potentially stop abortion.

"I recognize that goal. But I also understand that that organization and many others are doing so in the confines of Roe v. Wade. And to the extent that they're doing it in a constitutional manner, then I stand with them," said Jackson

A federal appeals court ruled the Texas law did not violate the right to an abortion granted by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade because it did not create an "undue burden" on women.

Twenty-two clinics remain open there. But courts put the law on hold in Alabama where there are only five providers, and in Mississippi, where there's only one.

A legal challenge is expected here Louisiana where Gov. Bobby Jindal is expected to sign the law next week.

It would go into effect on Sept. 1.

Posted by: Lindsay Sax


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