Analysis

Judge allows Louisiana admitting privileges law to take effect

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Good news for the preborn in Louisiana: a federal appellate court has ruled that the state may enforce its requirement that abortionists obtain admitting privileges with a hospital within 30 miles…

“Louisiana is likely to prevail in its arguments that Plaintiffs failed to establish an undue burden on women seeking abortions or that the Act creates a substantial obstacle in the path of a large fraction of women seeking an abortion,” Circuit Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod wrote Wednesday for the panel.

Circuit Judges Edith Brown Clement and Leslie Southwick joined Elrod in the ruling.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights vowed an immediate appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, warning that three of Louisiana’s four remaining abortion clinics in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport and Bossier City will be forced to close unless the high court acts immediately.

The Center for Reproductive Rights’ announced appeal is nothing more than grandstanding (and fundraising), because the Supreme Court is already going to hear the issue in the case over Texas’s HB 2 law. The only scenario in which that ruling doesn’t also resolve Louisiana’s law would be a 4-4 tie, in which case the lower Texas ruling would remain in effect but not set precedent for the rest of the country. But even then, the same judges are unlikely to change their mind on such a similar law—assuming, that is, they even bother to hear it having already taken up admitting privileges.

And stand the law should. The ruling points out that under Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “undue burden” is a pretty tough bar to clear: “in a large fraction of the cases in which [it] is relevant, it will operate as a substantial obstacle to a woman’s choice to undergo an abortion” (emphasis in the original).

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It then goes on to conclude that the abortion lobby’s statistics predicting mass drops in abortion access were “neither sufficient nor sufficiently reliable for Plaintiffs to establish an undue burden on a large fraction of Louisiana women” – they rely on a supposed lack of access that predated the law and therefore cannot have been caused by the law, fail to account for abortionists who already have admitting privileges, ignore evidence that over 90% of Louisiana women would still be within 150 miles of an abortion facility, and what is perhaps my favorite nugget from this opinion:

Doe 3’s [a plaintiff abortionist] testimony that he may close his practice if he is the last provider in the state is purely hypothetical. Furthermore, Doe 3’s hypothetical decision to close his practice would result from his own choice rather than the requirements of the Act. Because he has admitting privileges that satisfy the Act, the district court should not have assumed in its calculations that the Act would cause him to cease providing abortions.

What a golden example of how little hard fact is behind the abortion lobby’s fear-mongering. Indeed, if abortionists really are the reliable, respectable medical professionals they keep telling us they are, then surely obtaining admitting privileges isn’t too much to expect of them.

Finally, remember that before abortionist admitting privileges became a political football, dozens of mainstream, distinguished medical organizations—including the now-politicized American Medical Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists—agreed that “Physicians performing office-based surgery must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, a transfer agreement with another physician who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, or maintain an emergency transfer agreement with a nearby hospital.”

The only reason anyone is indulging this absurd notion that it’s outrageous to hold abortionists to basic medical standards is because abortionists are not the health-conscious saints you’ve been told they are, and need to deflect accountability.

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