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Louisiana Continues to Defend Texas-Style Clinic Shutdown Law

Louisiana appeals court order blocking abortion restrictions identical to those found unconstitutional by Supreme Court last summer in Whole Woman’s Health

(MEDIA ADVISORY)  Despite last summer’s landmark decision in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt—which found two of Texas’ clinic shutdown laws unconstitutional—Louisiana continues to defend their identical clinic shutdown law. 

Specifically, the state filed an appeal late Friday to a federal court ruling from April that permanently blocked a requirement forcing any doctor who provides abortion care to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. The law--which is identical to the Texas sham law ruled unconstitutional in the historic June 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision--would have forced two of the three remaining clinics in the state to close.  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

The Center for Reproductive Rights will continue to challenge the measure as the litigation continues. 

Said David Brown, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

 
“It’s outrageous that Louisiana continues to defend these plainly unconstitutional restrictions, leaving women and taxpayers to pay the price.

“Louisiana should stop defending an indefensible law that shuts down clinics and puts women’s health at risk.  Until then, the Center for Reproductive Rights will continue to stand with Louisiana women and fight back against these unconstitutional restrictions in court.”

Tomorrow is the deadline for the Center for Reproductive Rights to file for legal fees in the challenge to Louisiana’s unconstitutional clinic shutdown law.  Texas is currently facing a $4.5 million dollar fee request from the Center for fees accrued during its court battle in Whole Woman’s Health

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.  A federal district court permanently blocked the measure in April 2017. 

 

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