Monday June 14, 2010

Louisiana Lawmakers Clamp Down on Law-Breaking Abortionists

By Peter J. Smith

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, June 14, 2010 ( – The Louisiana State House has given final approval to a bill that would empower the state’s health secretary to hold abortionists accountable by shutting down the operations of all abortion clinics run by the same owner, when any one of those clinics has violated state law.

The Louisiana Senate voted 33 – 0 to approve H.B. 1370, a measure sponsored by Rep. Fred Mills Jr., D-St. Martinville, which will prevent abortionists from carrying on with business as usual after a clinic has been cited for legal violations.

The bill gives the Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary the power to “deny, refuse, or revoke” the operating licenses of outpatient abortion facilities, when their licensed owner has violated the law. This includes “any provision of the law, any rule, or state or federal regulation pertaining to the licensing of outpatient abortion facilities.”

The House had earlier approved the bill without opposition 89 – 0.

Under the new law, abortionists, clinic owners and their employees will no longer be able simply to shift their operations to another clinic owned by the same licensed individual after a violation. One provision states that when such violations have been established at the offending licensed clinic, “any owner, officer, member, manager, director, or administrator of the licensee may be prohibited from owning, managing, directing, or operating another outpatient abortion clinic in [Louisiana].”

Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, attempted to strip that section of the bill, arguing the measure was too harsh. However, the Senate soundly rejected her amendment with a vote of 4 in favor and 22 against.

The DHH secretary also has the right to suspend immediately a clinic’s license and shut down its operations if a DHH investigation determines that the clinic is violating the law and poses “an immediate threat to the health and safety of a patient or client.”

“We are happy the bill passed,” Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life Federation, told He added that Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal was a driving force behind getting the bill passed. Clapper said that his group was “proud” of Jindal’s administration.

“We believe it is necessary to make sure abortionists are in compliance with the law,” added Clapper. “They can’t do what they want. This holds them accountable.”

The bill essentially guarantees that the HHS secretary will have the same authority over abortion clinics as he has over the licensing of hospitals and their continued operation in that state.

Gov. Jindal is expected to sign the measure into law soon.

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