Two Louisiana abortion providers close as state's law banning most abortions takes effect
A third provider canceled all scheduled abortions following guidance from the Louisiana Department of Health.
(The Center Square) -
Two Louisiana abortion providers have reportedly shut their doors and a third has canceled all scheduled abortions following guidance from the Louisiana Department of Health in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
The Supreme Court decision Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey triggered laws to ban abortion in Louisiana, and has set up a conflict between the state and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland over medications used to induce abortions.
The Louisiana Department of Health notified the state's three outpatient abortion clinics on Friday that a 2006 law and another passed during the 2022 legislative session outlawing abortions are now in effect.
"Through this letter you are hereby notified that today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization …, which held that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion, that Roe and Casey are overruled, and that the authority to regulate abortion, is returned to the people and their elected representatives," the letter read, according to WGNO.
"Therefore, Louisiana Revised Statute 40:1061 is not in effect and enforceable. In addition, provisions of Acts 2022, No. 545 of the 2022 Regular Legislative Session are also in effect today, June 24, 2022. The Louisiana Department of Health expects your clinic to abide by the Louisiana laws on abortion."
The 2006 trigger law prohibits abortion in Louisiana with only two exceptions, which include to save the life of the mother or when medical treatment results in an unintentional termination. Senate Bill 342, now Act 545, increases penalties in the 2006 law to a $100,000 fine and 10 years in prison for medical professionals who terminate pregnancies, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The law exempts pregnant women from prosecution.
Act 545, signed by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, a pro-life Catholic, also expands exceptions in the 2006 law to include medical procedures performed after a pregnant woman miscarries, removal of an ectopic pregnancy, and medical procedures to remove an unborn child that will not survive after birth.
The LDH letter prompted the Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge and Women's Health Care Center in New Orleans to close, NOLA reports.
The state's only other abortion provider, Hope Medical Center for Women in Shreveport, vowed to remain open to continue to offer women's health services and support, though all abortions were canceled, according to KTAL.
"We're also not surrendering," volunteer Elizabeth Woolbert said. "They're going to keep fighting, and we'll do whatever we can to support them and to make sure that women and anyone with a uterus, no matter how they identify, has access to help when they need it."
The Supreme Court decision on abortion also set up a conflict between the state and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has claimed states cannot ban medication used in some abortions that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Garland wrote in a statement "the FDA has approved the use of the medication mifepristone. States may not ban mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA's expert judgment about its safety and efficacy."
Louisiana is among more than 30 states that have enacted some form of restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank supporting abortion.
Senate Bill 388 was signed into law by Edwards as Act 548 to ban the sale of abortion-inducing drugs by out-of-state prescribers, essentially outlawing abortion by mail. The law provides for five to 10 years of prison and/or a $10,000 to $75,000 fine. The penalty increases if the pregnant woman is a minor to 15 to 50 years in prison and/or a $15,000 to $100,000 fine.
Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, sponsor of SB 388, noted on Twitter that pro-choice advocates filed a motion for emergency relief in Orleans Civil Court today in an attempt to block Louisiana's trigger law, but did not acknowledge the apparent conflict on abortion-inducing drugs.
"We amended SB342 on the House floor to cleanup the laws we have passed since 2006," she wrote. "We are ready to defend life."