The Center for Reproductive Rights filed this lawsuit in federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana to prevent the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners from unfairly disciplining a non-obstetrician-gynecologist physician for performing first-trimester abortions at Hope Medical Group for Women, a clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Filed: October 2006
Center Attorney(s): Stephanie Toti
Summary: The Board had taken the position that only obstetrician-gynecologists are competent to perform first-trimester abortions, despite the fact that one-third of first-trimester abortion providers nationwide are not obstetrician-gynecologists and despite the fact that the physician had been trained to provide first-trimester abortions by the medical director at Hope Medical Group for Women. The Board charged the physician—identified in the case by the initials K.P.—with violating the Louisiana Medical Practice Act and ordered her to "cease and desist" performing first-trimester abortions while it investigated those charges. Had K.P. been found guilty of the alleged violations, her license to practice medicine could have been suspended or revoked. In March 2008, the Center reached a settlement with the Board on behalf of both our clients, Hope Medical Group for Women and K.P., M.D.
In the settlement, the Board retreated from the position that only obstetrician-gynecologists are competent to perform abortions. The Board agreed that its members would undertake a formal study of the standard of care with respect to the training of first-trimester abortion providers, and that it would issue an advisory opinion outlining minimum training requirements for first-trimester abortion providers in the State of Louisiana.
The Board also agreed to drop all charges against K.P. On July 11, 2008, the Board released its advisory opinion, which sets forth "the level of training expected" of physicians who perform first-trimester surgical and medical abortions in Louisiana. While residency training in obstetrics and gynecology is not expected, other training beyond that required by the standard of care is expected. In fact, the Board’s advisory opinion sets forth the most stringent training requirements for first-trimester abortion providers of any state in the United States. Currently, all of the doctors working at the Center’s client clinics in Louisiana are able to meet these requirements. Accordingly, the Center will continue to monitor the situation and may consider further litigation in the event that a doctor who does not meet the Board’s heightened training requirements seeks to provide abortions in Louisiana.