Louisiana Governor Jindal Signs Law Designed to Shutter Reproductive Health Clinics

Politicians continue to ignore expertise and counsel of medical community, deny women seeking to end a pregnancy safe, legal, high-quality care

(PRESS RELEASE) Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law today House Bill 388, a measure forcing any doctor who provides abortion care to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital—a requirement that is not necessary for the treatment of the fewer than 1% of abortion patients who experience complications, and can be impossible to satisfy because of hospitals’ inclination to deny admitting privileges to abortion providers for reasons not related to the doctors’ qualifications.

The law—designed not by doctors, but by politicians and anti-abortion activist organizations—is a copycat law similar to those passed in Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma and other states to shutter abortion clinics, leaving many thousands of women without access to safe, legal, and high quality abortion care.  Both the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) oppose hospital admitting privileges as a requirement for physicians providing abortion services.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights: 

“Completely ignoring the expertise of respected doctors and medical organizations, Gov. Jindal and the other politicians who enacted this law have put the health, lives, and future of countless Louisiana women and their families at risk of grave harm.

“Plain and simple, this is a measure designed to run caring, trustworthy health professionals out of practice, and it could drastically reduce women’s access to safe and legal care when they need to end a pregnancy.

“It is an affront to women’s rights under the U.S. Constitution and a threat to their health. The politicians responsible for advancing this law must also be held accountable for the disastrous consequences it will bring about in the lives of women statewide.”

House Bill 388 is one of many pieces of legislation advanced by the Louisiana Legislature designed to burden doctors providing abortion care and limit a pregnant woman’s choices, while doing nothing to improve her health and safety.

With this law, Louisiana has joined the ranks of other states that have attempted to use admitting privileges requirements as an underhanded way to shutter high-quality clinics and severely limit women’s access to abortion services.  Women’s health care providers and advocates are currently involved in two challenges to Texas’ unconstitutional admitting privileges requirement which has already closed health centers across the state while a similar law in Mississippi could shut down the last remaining clinic in the state.  Admitting privileges requirements in Alabama and Wisconsin are also currently being challenged in court; nevertheless, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a similar measure into law late last month.

The Texas law is opposed by both the AMA and ACOG. In an amicus brief filed in that legal challenge, the organizations write that the law “jeopardizes women’s health in Texas,” doing “nothing to protect the health of women.”  Medical experts confirm that abortion care has a 99% safety record, with less than 1% of patients experiencing any complications and even fewer requiring further treatment at a hospital.

Harmful and unconstitutional restrictions like these further underscore the need for the federal Women's Health Protection Act (S. 1696/H.R. 3471)—a bill that would prohibit states like Louisiana from imposing unconstitutional restrictions on reproductive health care providers that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with women’s personal decision making, and block access to safe and legal abortion services.