Legislator says La. abortion law not in jeopardy
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The sponsor of a Louisiana law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges said she doesn't believe the provision is threatened after a federal appeals court struck down a similar Mississippi law.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 Tuesday to overturn Mississippi's 2012 law, which could have shuttered the state's only abortion clinic. The judges said every state must guarantee the right to an abortion.
Louisiana's law, sponsored by Monroe Rep. Katrina Jackson, takes effect Sept. 1. It will require abortion clinics to have doctors with the ability to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles of where the procedure is performed. The hospital also must provide obstetrical or gynecological health care services.
A lawyer who represents Louisiana's abortion clinics didn't immediately return requests for comment Tuesday. Abortion-rights groups have said the new requirement will shutter at least three of Louisiana's five abortion clinics, leaving only clinics in the Shreveport area, in the northwestern corner of the state.
Jackson, a Democrat, said she's not concerned Louisiana's law will be struck down if a lawsuit is filed as expected, even though appeals would go through the same court. She said two Louisiana abortion clinics have a doctor with admitting privileges, so the law won't close every clinic, as was the case in Mississippi.
"I have not begun to worry. I wouldn't have passed a bill that I didn't believe was constitutional," Jackson said.
She pointed to the unsuccessful challenge of a similar law in Texas. A different panel of the 5th Circuit upheld a 2013 Texas law requiring physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Several, but not all, of Texas' clinics closed after that law took effect.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, who supported Louisiana's law, also cited the appeals court decision involving Texas' admitting privileges requirement.
"The Louisiana law protects the safety of women by ensuring they have access to critical services in emergencies, and the 5th Circuit has already upheld a similar law in Texas," Jindal said in a statement.