U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Issues Ruling That Will Close Nearly All Abortion Clinics in Louisiana

Yesterday evening, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a Louisiana law requiring physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. This ruling will likely close most if not all clinics in the state.

The Louisiana law is nearly identical to the law that was overturned in the 2016 decision by the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

The Louisiana law requires any physician providing abortion services to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion is performed. Currently, there is only one physician in Louisiana that meets this requirement. The law has no medical justification and will prevent thousands of women in Louisiana from receiving the constitutionally guaranteed care they need.  The 2-1 opinion lays out the facts; abortion in Louisiana is extremely safe with particularly low rates of serious complications. In fact, the court found that only nine patients, out of thousands, have required hospital transfer in over a quarter of a decade.  

Nevertheless, the court determined that the insignificant medical benefits of this law outweigh the significant burden it will impose on women seeking abortion in Louisiana. The most generous interpretation the court finds is that 30% of women will be burdened by the law.

“Low-income women will bear this burden as they always do with the constant restrictions this state continues to impose on access to abortion care,” stated Michelle Erenberg, Executive Director of Lift Louisiana. “This opinion falsely claims that no clinics will close because of this law. We know that this law will close clinics and push abortion out of reach for most Louisiana women.”

In his dissent, Judge Higginbotham writes, “It is apparent that when abortion comes on stage it shadows the role of settled judicial rules.” As the nation’s attention is fixed on the nomination of Justice Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, this is a dire warning about the seriousness with which we take precedent, not only Roe v. Wade, but in more recent rulings from the highest court in the land.

Media Contact: Ellie Schilling, (805) 453-5242

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