Federal District Court Permanently Blocks Louisiana’s Texas-style Clinic Shutdown Law

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Center for Reproductive Rights secures major victory for Louisiana women 10 months after Supreme Court issues historic ruling striking Texas’ nearly identical clinic shutdown law
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(PRESS RELEASE) A federal district court permanently blocked Louisiana’s Texas-style clinic shutdown law today, specifically citing the Supreme Court’s recent historic ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt.

The Louisiana measure—which was signed by Governor Bobby Jindal in June 2014 and forces any doctor who provides abortion care to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital—threatens to shutter two of the three remaining abortion clinics in the state.  If the majority of Louisiana’s clinics were to close, the closest provider of safe and legal abortion for many women in the state would have been in Jackson, Mississippi—a clinic that is only open due to a court order obtained by the Center for Reproductive Rights.  

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

"Louisiana women who have made the decision to end a pregnancy deserve access to safe and legal health care free of political interference,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.  “Sham laws that rob women of their rights and shutter high-quality clinics are dangerous and unconstitutional.”  

“Courts across the country continue to see through the façade of clinic shutdown laws like Louisiana’s, striking them down one after another.  We call upon all elected officials to abandon their crusade against women’s health care and focus on policies which actually advance women’s health and rights.”   

Clinic shutdown laws like Louisiana’s  have continued to fall around the country since last summer’s landmark Supreme Court victory in Whole Woman’s Health.  Similar laws in MississippiOklahomaTennessee, Alabama, Ohio, and Wisconsin have all been permanently blocked after the nation’s highest court found Texas’ clinic shutdown laws unconstitutional.  Laws have also been blocked preliminarily--in ongoing litigation--in Kentucky and Missouri.  The Virginia Board of Health also voted to amend its Texas-style clinic shutdown regulations in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, making Virginia the first state to take the step of implementing the Whole Woman’s Health decision through a legislative or administrative body.  

Despite the sweeping nature of Whole Woman’s Health, states—including Louisiana—continued to defend their clinic shutdown laws months after the Supreme Court ruling.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is also currently challenging every single abortion restriction Louisiana passed in 2016—a case filed within one week of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health.  None of those restrictions are currently in effect due to an agreement between the plaintiffs and the state.     

Case History

David Brown, and Zoe Levine of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Demme Doufekias, Marc Hearron, David Scannell, Kerry Jones, and Tim Gallivan from Morrison &, Foerster, and William E. Rittenberg of Rittenberg, Samuel, and Phillips, LLC filed the challenge to Louisiana’s clinic shutdown law on behalf of Hope Medical Group for Women, Causeway Medical Clinic, and Bossier City Medical Suite in August 2014 (Causeway Medical Clinic closed in January 2016 and Bossier City Medical Suite closed in March 2017).  A federal district court judge blocked the measure from taking effect the same month, the same judge continued to block the measure in January 2016.  On February 24, 2016, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted an emergency stay of the federal district court decision, immediately closing two of the then-four remaining clinics in the state and threatening to close another were it not for immediate Supreme Court relief.  On March 4, 2016, the nation’s highest court stepped in to protect abortion access in Louisiana—just two days after hearing oral argument in the legal challenge to Texas’ clinic shutdown law.