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Louisiana Right to Life originally conceptualized the need for the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act and worked with then Representative Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) to introduce the legislation in the Louisiana Legislature. Louisiana Right to Life worked to pass the legislation and has since advocated for the importance of the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act.
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Every American, regardless of their stance on abortion, should have an interest in protecting the health and safety of women at abortion facilities. Act 620, a 2014 law passed in Louisiana that is now being reviewed by the Supreme Court in the June Medical Services v. Russo* case, does exactly that.
In Louisiana, every physician at all outpatient surgical facilities, except abortion facilities, must have “admitting privileges” at a local hospital. These hospital privileges are common-sense safety protections to ensure that when an emergency happens at an outpatient facility, the physician can handle the complication without any delay by having the patient admitted to a local hospital and following up her care there. No matter how frequently complications occur, these protections are standard and should be universal across all outpatient surgical settings.
In 2014, then State Representative (now State Senator) Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe), together with Louisiana Right to Life, filed the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act to close this loophole and put abortion facilities on the same safety standards as all other outpatient surgical facilities. Legislative testimony focused on the dangerous history of Louisiana abortion facilities, the common-sense nature of admitting privileges through the words of doctors, and personal testimony of women hurt physically and emotionally by abortion.
The Louisiana Legislature passed the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act by an overwhelming margin in both the Louisiana Senate (34-3) and the Louisiana House of Representatives (85-6). Legislators of all backgrounds and political parties represented the majorities in both chambers.
But the abortion industry, more interested in profits than their patients, filed suit to stop the law in court. June Medical Services, the corporation that owns the “Hope Medical Group for Women” abortion facility in Shreveport, has led the lawsuit. June Medical Services sells only abortion to the women who enter its doors.
The Louisiana abortion industry has a long record of shoddy practices that jeopardize the health and safety of Louisiana women. As reported in public documents acquired from the Louisiana Department of Health, abortion facility violations in the state include but are not limited to: failures to verify the medical history of patients, failure to monitor how long or how much nitrous oxide was given to patients, failure to perform or document a physical exam of each patient, failure to properly store and safeguard medications, failure to have qualified personnel administer anesthesia, failure to properly sterilize equipment, and failure to ensure that single-use IV fluid was used only once.
In March of 2019, a patient at the Baton Rouge abortion facility, Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge, was hemorrhaging due to complications from the abortion, but Delta Clinic did not have IV fluids on site to replenish fluids. Sadly, the woman had to have a full hysterectomy at a nearby hospital.
The track record of these dangerous for-profit businesses makes it clear that they should not be able to represent women against universal health and safety standards. Together, we stand with the real Louisiana women asking for the protections that ACT 620 provides.
We ask the Supreme Court to close the loopholes that enable abortion facilities to operate at a lower standard than the rest of the medical field. While we stand united in our desire to protect the unborn child who is violently killed by abortion, we must stand for the women who deserve better than the sub-standard abortion industry.
* Due to the resignation of Rebekah Gee, the former Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) Secretary, the name of the case has been altered to represent interim LDH Secretary Stephen Russo. On April 1, Courtney Phillips will take over as LDH Secretary.