On May 1, the Center resolved a lawsuit filed in federal district court challenging Louisiana’s attempt to close down abortion clinics in the state under a Notice issued by the state health department directing medical providers to postpone medical care unless it falls under certain exceptions. The move came after the attorney general announced “that elective abortions are not essential procedures” under the Notice and publicly announced his intention to close the state’s abortion clinics. The Center was able to reach an agreement that would allow abortion care to remain fully accessible throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit had claimed that “Defendants’ interpretation of the Notice as applied to previability abortion violates Plaintiff’s patients’ rights to privacy, liberty, and bodily integrity and autonomy guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution” and that it violated the clinics’ equal protection rights by treating them differently than other health-care providers. It also brought a Fourth Amendment challenge against Defendants’ actions attempting to illegally search clinics and copy patient charts.
Commenting when the suit was filed, Kathaleen Pittman, clinic administrator for Hope Medical Group for Women, said “The Attorney General’s recent actions have thrown our patients into a state of fear and panic. There are women in Louisiana who need an abortion today—they cannot wait.” Now, as Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center stated, “Our client, Hope Medical Group for Women, will remain open and able to provide care to their patients. We are relieved that patients in Louisiana will not be denied essential, time-sensitive abortion services as they have been in other states during this public health crisis.”
The lawsuit was filed April 14 by Center for Reproductive Rights attorneys Jenny Ma, Caroline Sacerdote, and Arielle Humphries and Ellie Schilling of Schonekas, Evans, McGoey & McEachin as local counsel on behalf of Hope Medical Group for Women. The full complaint is available here.
The Center is currently litigating three cases in Louisiana to defend access to reproductive health care, including June Medical Services v. Russo—a case argued before the Court in early March and awaiting a decision—that challenges a TRAP law that would close two of the state’s three abortion clinics.