NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, September 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Louisiana may continue to require basic health and safety standards for abortion facilities, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.
The 2-1 ruling upheld Act 620, the state’s hospital admitting privileges law, and ordered a lawsuit against the law dismissed, reversing a previous ruling by a federal judge in Baton Rouge. The outcome means that the state’s three abortion facilities must be able make arrangements for women to be admitted to a hospital 30 miles away or closer, in case of life-threatening complications.
“I applaud the Fifth Circuit’s decision to allow Louisiana’s pro-life and pro-woman admitting privileges law to go into effect,” Attorney General Jeff Landry responded in a statement. “It really is common sense that a woman should be able to count on the doctor who treats her to continue to do so if she has a complication or be able to ensure she has proper care by admitting her to the hospital rather than abandoning her at the ER.”
Abortion advocates cited 2016’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’s similar regulations, as proof that Louisiana was defying national precedent. But Judge Jerry Smith’s majority opinion noted few Louisiana hospitals have Texas hospitals’ additional burden that “for a doctor to maintain privileges there, he or she had to admit a minimum number of patients annually.”
Smith also concluded that there was no evidence that any abortion centers would be forced to close as a result of the law, and that there was only one abortionist who was currently unable to comply. His quitting would affect “at most, only 30 percent of women,” Smith wrote, “and even then, not substantially.”
Smith was joined by Judge Edith Brown Clement; Judge Patrick Higginbotham dissented by agreeing with the abortion lobby’s narrative that a “statute with no medical benefit” that was “likely to restrict” abortions is inherently “undue.”
However, despite the Hellerstedt ruling accepting the abortion industry’s narrative that admitting privileges are medically-unnecessary burdens, 32 nonpartisan medical associations – including the Federation of State Medical Boards and National Committee for Quality Assurance, and covering fields from surgery and anesthesioloy to dermatology and radiology – affirmed at the time that admitting privileges are a legitimate medical standard. The pro-abortion justices also ignored the plaintiffs’ own record of health and safety violations.
“Louisiana Right to Life celebrates today’s 5th Circuit decision upholding Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act as a victory for women’s health and safety,” Louisiana Right to Life executive director Benjamin Clapper said. “Our law should never create special loopholes so that abortion facilities can operate in a sub-standard manner. These facilities and their physicians should be held to the same standard as all outpatient surgical facilities.”
In June, the Associated Press found that the state of Louisiana had spent $1.14 million since 2014 defending this and other pro-life laws from lawsuits by the abortion lobby. The other provisions that have faced legal challenges include a 72-hour waiting period for abortions, a requirement that babies killed in abortions be given humane burials or cremations, and efforts to cut off Planned Parenthood from state Medicaid funds.