Authored by Representative Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe)
LA House of Representatives Vote 2014: 85-6
LA Senate Vote 2014: 34-3
How is Louisiana’s 2014 Act 620 different than the Texas law struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt?
Texas’ law that was struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt not only requires physicians at abortion facilities to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, but it also required abortion facilities to meet ambulatory surgical center requirements. Louisiana’s 2014 Act 620 requires physicians at abortion facilities to have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles of the facility. It does not include the ambulatory surgical center requirement. The different geography and demographic distribution of Louisiana is also very different from Texas, prompting the appellate court to find that the law’s benefits to women’s health are not outweighed by its burdens.
What is the goal of Louisiana Act 620?
The goal of Louisiana Act 620, the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, is to protect the health and safety of Louisiana women by ensuring physicians at abortion facilities can treat patients in a local hospital in the event a woman is harmed by a known complication of abortion, such as torn cervix or punctured uterus. In cases of an emergency, the abortion facility should not only call 911, or rely on the availability of another physician with which they have transfer privileges, and then hope the hospital can address the emergency. Through this law, the same doctor who knows the exact nature of the complication can help the patient in the hospital, improving the continuity of care.
Currently, Louisiana law requires surgeons in outpatient surgical centers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals so that the physician can admit and treat a patient if an emergency arises. Louisiana 2014 Act 620 simply requires the functional equivalent standard for surgical abortion providers. There should be no abortion loopholes when it comes to the standard of care.
What if abortion facilities shut down when Act 620 goes into effect?
By law, physicians at an outpatient surgical center in Louisiana has to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. It should be the same with abortion. If an abortion facility cannot meet this requirement, they should not be permitted to perform surgical procedures with known medical risks, just like other outpatient surgical facilities. Women, who are often coerced into abortion, deserve the same standard of care because their lives matter as much as the lives of their children.
Why are the factual considerations different in Louisiana as it relates to Act 620 versus the Texas law struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt?
In district and appellate court proceedings, Louisiana presented how the impact of Louisiana’s law is different from Texas’ law. Not only is Louisiana’s law materially different, but the geography and population difference between Texas and Louisiana presents separate facts that should be considered independently from the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision. The driving distance between abortion facilities with admitting privileges is much different than in Texas, reducing the argument that the law is an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose.
Does this law strike at the core holding of Supreme Court abortion jurisprudence?
The Louisiana law is simply a health and safety regulation. However, the abortion industry’s attack of this modest law shows its extreme agenda of opposing even common sense regulations designed to protect women from the known risks of abortion, such as cervical tear or punctured uterus. Given the extreme agenda exposed by the New York law to allow abortion until the moment of birth, a position allowed under Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the potential grant of review of the Louisiana case may give the Supreme Court’s new members the opportunity to limit or overrule some of its more extreme decisions.