Clinic Seeks to Topple Abortion Restrictions

     (CN) — A Louisiana abortion provider sued to invalidate state laws banning dilation procedures the safest way to have a second-trimester abortion and imposing other severe restrictions, just days after the Supreme Court struck down abortion limits in Texas.
     Louisiana passed seven bills to restrict abortion rights during its 2016 legislative session.
     The laws prohibit a woman from obtaining an abortion after 20-weeks if the baby is found to have a genetic abnormality. They ban the use of dilation and evacuation procedures, the safest way to have a second trimester abortion, as well as the use of medication abortion, and require the burial of fetal tissue following an abortion.
     The new laws also require a three-day waiting period between the grant of informed consent to abortion and having the procedure. They permit only doctors board-certified in family medicine or obstetrics and gynecology to perform abortions, and forbid any state agency from entering into a funding agreement with an entity that performs abortions.
     Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas law requiring hospital admitting privileges for doctors who perform abortions. The Supreme Court blocked enforcement of a similar Louisiana law in March.
     In a lawsuit filed Friday, June Medical Services and three John Doe doctors claim the seven Louisiana laws cumulatively deprive their patients of their constitutional right to an abortion.
     “The 2016 Acts are part of a regulatory system aimed at virtually every conceivable point of obstruction in abortion care delivery in Louisiana, with the expectation and intention that, by closing off as many critical points as possible, abortion clinics will progressively shut down, physicians who currently provide abortion care will become progressively unable to do so, new physicians will find the hurdles to beginning to provide abortion care too great, women will find it increasingly hard to obtain the abortion care they seek, and access to legal abortion in Louisiana will become increasingly unavailable, until it does not exist in practice, while remaining legal in theory,” the complaint states.
     The delay caused by the now-mandatory waiting period will force more women into second-trimester abortions, which will be dangerous now that the dilation method is illegal in Louisiana, the clinic says.
     The restrictions on qualified physicians will also cause additional delays. June Medical says its clinic has only one physician that meets the new requirements to care for women seeking an abortion after 13 weeks, and he only works two days a week because he is required to keep his admitting privileges at a hospital.
     “The cumulative impact of these restrictions is to severely threaten the ongoing availability of abortion services in Louisiana sufficient to meet need,” June Medical says. “With only five physicians offering abortion services at four clinics [statewide], the loss of any further physicians or facilities would create a shortage resulting in lengthy delays and the denial of care to women.”
     The abortion provider asked the court to declare the laws unconstitutional and issue an injunction prohibiting their enforcement.It is represented by William Rittenberg with Rittenberg, Samuel and Phillips in New Orleans and Janet Crepps with the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York.

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