Judge Temporarily Blocks Enforcement of Louisiana Admitting Privileges Law

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Judge Temporarily Blocks Enforcement of Louisiana Admitting Privileges Law

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The order prevents authorities in Louisiana from enforcing the law while clinics and providers continue to try and secure hospital admitting privileges.

A federal judge on Sunday issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of a new law that requires doctors who perform abortions in Louisiana to have admitting privileges at area hospitals.

HB 388, which Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) signed into law in June, provides only 81 days for doctors to obtain the required admitting privileges. Those challenging the law claim it is impossible to comply with that requirement because it can take anywhere from 90 days to seven months for a hospital to decide on a doctor’s admitting privileges application.

According to the order, the law will be allowed to go into effect, but state health officials may not enforce it.

Clinics and providers challenging the law must continue to try to comply by pursuing admitting privileges at area hospitals. The court also ordered a status conference to be held no later than 30 days after the ruling on the pending applications for admitting privileges.

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Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, praised the order in a statement, saying the ruling “ensures Louisiana women are safe from an underhanded law that seeks to strip them of their health and rights.”

Louisiana is the latest state to pass hospital admitting privileges abortion restrictions. Reproductive rights advocates filed two challenges to a similar Texas law, and on Friday a federal judge ruled the portion of the law that requires clinics meet the same architectural standards as ambulatory surgical centers unconstitutional.

Earlier this month a federal court found a similar Alabama law unconstitutional, while yet another federal court considers a similar fate for Wisconsin’s admitting privileges law.

Despite the fact that Sunday’s ruling is temporary and not on the merits of the law, it is important because the conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit hears decisions from the state.

The Fifth Circuit has so far issued somewhat contradictory rulings. One panel of judges from the Fifth Circuit upheld Texas’ admitting privileges requirement, while a different panel of judges struck down Mississippi’s admitting privileges law because it would have closed the state’s only clinic.