(PRESS RELEASE) – A Louisiana federal court today rejected the state’s efforts to shut down litigation brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights challenging Louisiana’s clinic licensing law and other medically unnecessary requirements that together have forced most of the state’s abortion clinics to close. The court found that there is sufficient basis for the bulk of the claims to proceed.
The Center, which uses the power of the law to secure reproductive rights, is challenging a licensing and regulatory regime that targets abortion providers by governing virtually every aspect of their patient care. These laws include provisions that force women to undergo a compulsory vaginal examination, regardless of their doctors’ recommendations, require doctors to provide their patients with misleading or false information about abortion, and allow the sweeping and invasive government collection and review of the medical records of every woman who has an abortion in the state.
In allowing the lawsuit to move forward, the Court noted that the state may not “attack abortion providers in a death-by-a-thousand cuts strategy.” Instead, courts must consider the cumulative effects of abortion restrictions and how they interact with each other.
Today’s decision comes in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Plaintiff Hope Medical Group for Women and its physicians in June of 2017. Since these laws took effect in 2001, the number of abortion clinics in Louisiana has fallen from eleven to three.
Said Jenny Ma, Staff Attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights: “Louisiana lawmakers are attempting to do what the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court forbid. They cannot target abortion providers and patients by relying on medically unjustified restrictions and sham health laws to undermine the constitutional protections for women that the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed over and over for decades.” “Continuing to defend these clearly unconstitutional laws harms women and wastes taxpayer resources.”
This challenge was filed by Jenny Ma and Caroline Sacerdote from the Center for Reproductive Rights, Shannon Rose Selden of the law firm Debevoise &, Plimpton LLP, and Larry Samuel of Rittenberg, Samuel &, Phillips LLC, on behalf of Plaintiff Hope Medical Group for Women and its physicians. There are nearly one million women of reproductive age in Louisiana and only three clinics providing safe and legal abortion in the state. The Center for Reproductive Rights in Louisiana In July 2016, the Center filed a separate challenge to seven harmful Louisiana abortion restrictions passed in 2016 – including a measure which would triple the state’s mandatory delay for women seeking abortion from 24 to 72 hours and a measure which bans the most common method of second trimester abortion. This case was filed just one week after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’ clinic shutdown law as unconstitutional in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt – the most significant abortion-related ruling from the Court in more than two decades. In November 2017, a Louisiana federal court rejected in large part the state’s efforts to shut down that litigation, finding that there is sufficient basis for the bulk of the claims to proceed.
Louisiana is facing a bill for more than $4.7 million in legal fees accrued during the Center’s court battle with the state over another clinic shutdown law that was permanently blocked by a federal district court judge. Louisiana continues to defend that law even though it is virtually identical to the Texas restriction struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.