Women in Louisiana may lose access to abortion services if the state passes a new law enacting a secretive overhaul of its clinic regulations.
According to DC bureau reporter Zoë Carpenter, “The requirements are so stringent that not one of the five clinics currently operating in Louisiana would meet them, according to a lawyer advising the clinics. The new regulatory framework would also impose a de facto 30-day waiting period for many women — an exceptional requirement.”
“The way the [Department of Health and Hospitals] went about passing these regulations was in a secretive and undemocratic way. The public definitely doesn’t know what’s going on,” she said.
According to Schilling, the law gives the agency the ability to shut down every existing clinic in Louisiana immediately by imposing new space requirements that none of the existing clinics meets. Providers would lose some of their rights to appeal noncompliance citations, while new and complex documentation and staffing requirements create more opportunities for DHH to cite clinics for deficiencies. “Deficiencies are used to create this impression of clinics being repeat offenders, and that’s a basis for revoking their license,” explained Schilling.
The regulatory overhaul would also give the state tools to prevent new clinics from getting a license. Proposed facilities—like a $4.2 million Planned Parenthood health center on South Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans—would have to prove to DHH that their services are needed; it’s unclear what criteria the agency would use to determine need. “It certainly seems that one intention is to prohibit Planned Parenthood from entering the market,” Schilling said. (Planned Parenthood clinics in Louisiana do not currently offer abortion services. “We are evaluating all our options” in light of the regulations, a spokesperson said.)
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The state of Louisiana currently has a twenty-week cutoff for pregnancy termination services. If the new law is voted into effect, that window will shorten as women will also face a mandatory thirty-day waiting period.
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