A law requiring hospital admitting privileges for all abortion doctors in Louisiana passed earlier this year, but just hours before it was supposed to go into full effect, a federal judge issued a temporary order delaying its enforcement.
Abortion rights supporters cheered the delay. Of the five abortion clinics in Louisiana, three have filed a lawsuit arguing that their doctors have not had enough time to secure permissions and would have been shut down.
In response to the law’s delay, Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said, “We continue to look to the courts to uphold the Constitution and protect access to safe and legal abortion for all women regardless of where they happen to live.”
But advocates of the new law say its intention is to protect women’s health. “The legal process is far from over,” said Benjamin Clapper, executive director of the Louisiana Right to Life Federation.
A similar legal fight is unfolding in Texas. Last week a federal judge in Texas also delayed a part of its abortion law. That section contains a requirement for abortion clinics to certify as ambulatory surgical centers. The rule is one of many measures that Texas has passed to limit abortions, causing backlogs at clinics across the state.
“One of the first phone calls I made to cancel appointments, the woman called back in a panic and threatened suicide. At that point, what do you say to people?” said Tenesha Duncan, administrator of Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center.
If the Texas law had gone into effect, the state would have had only seven or eight clinics remaining, all of them in major cities. The federal judge ruled that long travel times and other practical impediments women face would be as drastic as a “complete ban on abortion.”
The Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973 with its Roe v. Wade decision. Since 2011, more than 200 laws have been passed by states restricting access to abortions. On this edition of “Inside Story,” we look at the politics and legality of this unfolding trend.