Court upholds Louisiana admitting privileges requirement for abortion facilities

Louisiana court

UPDATE, 10/8: The Center for Reproductive Rights is seeking a rehearing of the case by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming the decision “violates binding Supreme Court precedent.” According to the Associated Press, “The 5th Circuit ruling acknowledges a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down an admitting privileges law in Texas — a case known as Whole Woman’s Health. But the majority said Louisiana’s law does not impose the same ‘substantial burden’ on women as the Texas law.”

9/28: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has upheld a Louisiana law requiring abortionists to have local hospital admitting privileges. Reuters reports that the ruling was 2-1. Notably, “the judges said the Louisiana provision was different than one in Texas that was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 because it would not put an undue burden on women.” The court stated, “There is no evidence that any of the clinics will close as a result of the Act.” This is because, as the Associated Press writes, the situations in Texas and Louisiana are not identical:

“Almost all Texas hospitals required that for a doctor to maintain privileges there, he or she had to admit a minimum number of patients annually,” Judge Jerry E. Smith wrote in the opinion joined by Judge Edith Brown Clement. “Few Louisiana hospitals made that demand.”

Judge Smith added that “the 2017 ruling, by Judge John deGravelles, overstated the burden on women seeking an abortion….”

Reuters notes:

Medical groups and abortion providers contend the [admitting privileges] requirement is unnecessary because complications from abortions are rare, and when they do occur, emergency room medical staff are well equipped to provide care.

But 32 medical societies support admitting privileges. As Live Action News’ Sarah Terzo reported last year, requiring abortion facilities to hold admitting privileges “doesn’t single out abortion facilities – it only requires them to meet the same safety standards other outpatient surgery facilities already do.”

READ: Abortion worker: We endangered patients and never called ambulances

In June of 2013, one physician, “Dr. Bryan Calhoun, vice chairman of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at West Virginia University,” told West Virginia Atty. Gen. Patrick Morrisey why abortionists should not be excluded from the admitting privileges requirement:

We commonly (I personally probably at least weekly) see patients at Women’s and Children’s Hospital in our emergency room or ultrasound center with complications from abortions at the centers in Charleston: so much for “safe and legal.” These patients are told to come to our hospital because the abortion clinic providers do not have hospital privileges to care for their patients, so we must treat them as emergency “drop ins”.… No other medical providers are allowed to care for patients, have no backup coverage, and then abandon them to the emergency room. We would be held ethically and legally liable.

As Secular Pro-Life put it, “the goal” of admitting privilege requirements is…

… to stop the practice of (literal) fly-by-night abortionists, who come into town for abortions, fly back to their homes out of state, and leave the local ER to deal with any complications that arise. (In the non-abortion context, this is known as patient abandonment.) Abortion advocates see this legislation as a bad thing, of course, because they believe that a fly-by-night abortionist is better than no abortionist at all.

Women still die from legal abortion, and in numbers greater than we would think. By opposing health and safety regulations, the abortion industry appears to care more about abortion access than for the safety of women.

There are currently three abortion facilities operating in Louisiana, located in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport.

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