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Providers challenge La. abortion restrictions

Abortion providers in Louisiana on Friday filed a lawsuit challenging several state restrictions on the procedure before they take effect on Aug. 1, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) filed the suit on behalf of two abortion clinics and three providers in Louisiana (Burdeau, AP/Sacramento Bee, 7/1). The legal challenge follows last week's Supreme Court ruling, which held that medically unnecessary antiabortion-rights provisions in Texas' HB 2 imposed an undue burden on women's access to abortion care (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/27).

Abortion restriction details

The suit challenges various state restrictions, including a law (Act 97) that extends the state's mandatory delay before an abortion from 24 to 72 hours (AP/Sacramento Bee, 7/1). The law does not apply to women who live 150 miles or more from their nearest abortion clinic. However, those women still are required to delay care for at least 24 hours after the initial visit (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/20).

The suit also challenges a ban (HB 1081) on a medically proven method of abortion and a measure (HB 815) requiring fetal tissue resulting from abortion to be buried or cremated. The providers also are challenging legislation that bars state and local government agencies from funding abortion clinics or organizations that contract with them.

In addition, the case challenges a measure (Act 98) that imposes new certification requirements on abortion providers (AP/Sacramento Bee, 7/1). Under the law, abortion providers will be required to be board certified or certifiable in either family medicine or OB-GYN. Medical students in OB-GYN or family medicine residency programs will be allowed to provide abortion care only under the "direct supervision" of a board-certified physician (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/20).

Lawsuit details

CRR filed the lawsuit in federal court. In the suit, the clinics called the mandatory delay law "an affront to the dignity and autonomy of women" that "imposes mental hardship and suffering, sorrow, and nervousness."

The suit also states the funding restriction "imposes a legal stigma on abortion clinics, isolating them by singling them out to Louisiana businesses as uniquely unqualified entities with whom to contract."

Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of CRR, denounced the restrictions, noting that state legislatures are "burying women's right to safe and legal abortion under an avalanche of unjustified and burdensome restrictions." She added, "A web of red tape" around abortion care is "driving safe and legal care out of reach for many Louisiana women and putting their health and well-being at risk" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 7/1).