Limits to Abortion Spread Across Southern States

Thursday, 22 May 2014 08:30 AM

By Melanie Batley

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The Louisiana State Legislature on Wednesday passed new regulations for abortion clinics that could force three of the state's five facilities to close, in line with recent moves in other southern states such as Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas.

According to The New York Times, the legislation passed by Republican legislatures require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, a move they say would improve the safety of the procedure. But abortion rights supporters the regulations are a backdoor tactic by pro-life activists to roll back abortion rights by regulating the procedure out of practice.

"With similar restrictions passed in neighboring states over the objection of leading medical experts, we are deeply concerned that women in a vast stretch of this country are in real danger of losing the ability to access legal abortion safely," Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement, according to the Times.
The law has the support of Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal who called it "a common-sense bill that gives women the health and safety protections they deserve," the Times reported.

Similar provisions have already taken effect in Texas where more than a dozen clinics have been forced to close. A law passed in 2012 in Mississippi, would force the closure of the state's only clinic but is currently stayed under court review. And Alabama's 2013 admitting-requirement law has also been stayed by a federal district judge, according to the Times.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, may be the next state to adopt the provisions which could force two of its three clinics to close.

Judges and legal experts are grappling with whether the admitting-privilege laws undermine the fundamental right to abortion initially established by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. Another Supreme Court case from 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, ruled that a woman had a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, and that any regulations on earlier abortions may not place an "undue burden" on that right.

"If all the clinics in a state have to close, I think a judge will have to call that an undue burden," Jessie Hill, a professor of constitutional law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, told the Times.

She added that if only a few clinics remain open, "eventually the court will have to say, 'This is the limit.'"

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