Following a press conference at First Baptist Church in West Monroe, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital, effectively shuttering the handful of clinics statewide. The bill mirrors similar legislation in Texas, where doctors who provide abortions must have admitting privileges to a hospital within a 30-mile radius of their clinics. Nearly a year following its passage, 14 of the state's 36 clinics have closed. Similar legislation (or lawsuits to reverse them) is underway in Alabama, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
Jindal also signed a bill that prevents clinics from supplying sex education materials to schools. In a statement, Jindal's office said the legislation will "advance the dignity of human life and the safety and well being of women and children." Jindal said:
“I am proud to sign these bills because they will help us continue to protect women and the life of the unborn in our state. These new laws will give women the health and safety protections they deserve, and continue to make Louisiana a state that values individual human life.”
While the administrator for clinics in New Orleans and Baton Rouge is attempting to obtain admitting privileges, clinics in Metairie and Bossier City may be forced to close. Only one clinic in Louisiana — one of two clinics in Shreveport — has admitting privileges, but, as evidenced by similar laws enacted in Texas and lawsuits that followed, clinics with admitting privileges could lose them.
House Bill 388, sponsored by state Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, sailed through the House and Senate. During a Senate debate May 14, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson called it a "terrible bill" that "will inevitably lead to the closure of clinics where the procedure is performed. ... That might be your intent, reducing the ability for a woman to get it. ... If you want to stop women from getting access to this, this’ll do it. It hurts women."
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association have opposed similar legislation in Texas and found "no medical basis" to require admitting privileges.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards said, “Ignoring the protest of women’s health experts, Governor Jindal is subjecting doctors who provide abortion to targeted restrictions under the guise of improving patient safety, despite the fact that abortion is already one of the safest medical procedures in the country," adding that “what is happening in Louisiana is part of a dangerous national trend ... where a woman's ability to make personal medical decisions without interference from politicians will be dependent upon where she happens to live. That cannot be what the Supreme Court intended when it established a woman's right to safe and legal abortion more than 40 years ago.”
Jindal also signed House Bill 305, by Rep. Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, which prohibits clinics and groups like Planned Parenthood, from distributing sex education or reproductive health information to schools.
In a Planned Parenthood statement, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast's Louisiana director Melissa Flournoy said, "It makes no sense that the same politicians, like Governor Jindal, who want to end safe and legal abortion in this state also want to restrict the ability of our youth to get sex education from the leading experts in the field. ... These laws will harm, not help, women and families in our state."