Lawsuit Filed Challenging Louisiana Admitting Privileges Law

Advocates asked a federal court to block the measure before it takes effect next month.

Advocates asked a federal court to block the measure before it takes effect next month. Scales of justice via Shutterstock

On Friday, reproductive rights advocates filed a new federal lawsuit challenging a Louisiana law that requires abortion providers in the state to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital.

The lawsuit, filed by the law firm Morrison & Foerster and joined by the Center for Reproductive Rights, was submitted on behalf of Louisiana health-care providers in federal district court in Baton Rouge and seeks an immediate injunction against HB 388, which Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) signed into law in June. According to the complaint, the law, which gives doctors only 81 days to obtain the required admitting privileges, is impossible to comply with because it can take anywhere from 90 days to seven months for a hospital to decide on a doctor’s admitting privileges application.

The law is set to take effect September 1.

“Louisiana is the latest state to advance the unconstitutional objective of denying women safe, legal abortion care under the phony pretext of protecting their health,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement. “We intend to demonstrate why this law must be the latest to be blocked by a federal court order.”

According to advocates, if HB 388 goes into effect at least three of the state’s five clinics will be forced to stop providing abortion services or close altogether. These closures would further reduce care options for patients, especially those women in the central part of the state who would be forced to travel hundreds of miles to access a provider.

Louisiana is the latest state to pass a requirement that abortion providers obtain hospital admitting privileges as a means to try and close abortion clinics and curtail access to services. Reproductive rights advocates have filed two challenges to a similar Texas law, while lawmakers in Mississippi hope to overturn a federal appeals court decision preventing them from enforcing their own admitting privileges law and closing the only clinic in that state. Meanwhile, earlier this month a federal court found a similar Alabama law unconstitutional while another federal court considers a similar fate for Wisconsin’s admitting privileges law.