NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana may be the next in a growing list of states to place new restrictions on abortion providers. The Louisiana House will soon take up the proposed bill after it sailed through a House committee. Some opponents, though, fear the bill would shut down abortion facilities across the state.
Rep. Katrina Jackson of Monroe authored a bill that would require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 minutes of the abortion clinic.
"I think it's very important that we protect the lives of the mothers and at least they're in a safe place if they chose the traumatic experience of having an abortion," said Jackson.
"It will not make abortion safer," said Amy Irvin, a board member of the New Orleans Abortion Fund. "The real intent of this bill is to create higher barriers to abortion care and close clinics."
Irvin says a similar law in Texas forced a third of the clinics there to close because the doctors didn't have admitting privileges to local hospitals. In Louisiana, Irvin believes three out of the five clinics in the state, including one in New Orleans, would be out of business, leaving Shreveport and Bossier City as the only two operating abortion providers.
"While affluent women may be able to travel the additional 500 miles from New Orleans to Shreveport or Bossier City, poorer women will not," said Irvin.
Proponents of the bill say pro-choice advocates are using fear tactics. Louisiana Right to Life Director Ben Clapper says it's not accurate to say three clinics in the state will have to close.
"The perception that somehow these doctors have no ability to get admitting privileges at these hospitals is not correct," Clapper said. "They still have time. They still can petition to get the admitting privileges."
Clapper says the bill simply ensures that clinics have high standards of care, and in case of emergency, a woman could be quickly admitted into a hospital.
If passed into law, it would also apply to the new Planned Parenthood that's supposed to be built on South Claiborne Avenue. Planned Parenthood opposes the bill, and in a statement to FOX 8 says it already follows extremely high medical standards.
After sailing through the House Health and Welfare Committee, the bill will be voted on by the full house next week. If it clears the House, it's on to the Senate. Gov. Bobby Jindal has already publicly lent his support to the measure.