Louisiana Passes Dramatic Anti-Abortion Regulations, Then Takes Them Back [Lady Bits]

Don’t blink – abortion rights are being rolled back so quickly all over the country that it’s tough to keep up. In 2013, lawmakers introduced over 300 different abortion restrictions, and 2014 is shaping up to be yet another record-breaking year.
The latest state seeking to block access to safe, legal abortions was Louisiana, which passed new “emergency” regulations for abortion clinics back in November. The regulations were created by the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), not the state legislature. There was no opportunity for public comment or debate. Even more strangely, the state’s abortion clinics hadn’t received notice of the new rules, and there had been hardly any reporting on them until this week.
The regulations required a woman to wait 30 days after having a blood test to get an abortion. Before an abortion procedure, it is standard to do a simple blood test to look at hematocrit and hemoglobin levels. However, there is no medical justification for waiting 30 days in between the test and the procedure. In fact, that could be dangerous. Doctors say hematocrit and hemoglobin tests should be as current as possible.
The 30-day waiting period is nothing more than a delaying tactic. Louisiana already outlaws abortions past 20 weeks. Under the new rules, if a woman was, say, 16 weeks pregnant and tried to seek a legal abortion, she would be denied because by the end of the month-long waiting period she’d be 20 weeks pregnant.
The “emergency” rules also dramatically and unnecessarily changed physical requirements for the buildings where abortion services are provided. For example, they mandated an increase in the size of procedure rooms, and dictated what kind of flooring had to be used. Not even hospitals have to comply with those kind of requirements. The rules also significantly decreased abortion clinics’ ability to appeal citations issued to them by the DHH, making it nearly impossible for clinics to navigate changes in ownership and staffing. The regulations probably would have forced all of the state’s five abortion providers to close their doors.
But then something funny happened. The press got wind of this backdoor abortion ban and started reporting on the story. News outlets contacted the DHH all day Monday, and on Monday night, they finally responded. The DHH press secretary told The Nation that it would rescind the language requiring the 30-day waiting period, and revise the rules to clarify that the physical building requirements are only intended for new facilities or ones that are being remodeled.
Hmm. Sounds to me like Louisiana got caught cheating.
[Lead image via Anne Power/Shutterstock]

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