Bill that restricts abortion providers clears another hurdle in - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Bill that restricts abortion providers clears another hurdle in Baton Rouge

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A push for strict new abortion rules in Louisiana wins support in Baton Rouge. A Senate committee approved a bill that critics say will force some clinics to shut down. Wednesday's vote comes as construction resumes at a controversial Planned Parenthood clinic Uptown.

The groundwork is being laid for the 8,000-square-foot Planned Parenthood building that will sit on South Claiborne Avenue. The facility will provide abortions, but pro-choice advocates say there's a chance the clinic could be in jeopardy before it even opens.

"Most of the clinics will close, and so it is very disconcerting that there may not be abortion access in New Orleans," said Amy Irvin, board member of the New Orleans Abortion Fund.

Irvin and other pro-choice advocates spoke before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday, urging lawmakers not to pass House Bill 388. It says abortion providers must have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinics where abortions are performed. Pro-choice advocates say it's often very difficult for doctors to obtain those privileges.

"House Bill 388 will affect low-income women especially. The New Orleans Abortion Fund is outraged by this bill and concerned that it will push women and families further into poverty," explained Irvin.

The bill passed the committee Wednesday without opposition from any of the senators. Dorinda Bordlee, chief counsel for the Bioethics Defense Fund, helped write the proposal, which she says was modeled after similar laws passed in other states. "The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has just unanimously upheld the Texas law and we used that exact language here in Louisiana," Bordlee said.

Bordlee said she's confident the bill will be approved by the full Senate and applauds what it could mean for the five abortion clinics currently operating in the state. "All of them would be required to have physicians not who have had malpractice cases and aren't allowed to practice at hospitals, but to have the highest quality physicians because abortion is a surgical procedure," said Bordlee.

Meanwhile, work on the South Claiborne site presses on. Planned Parenthood estimates the project will be finished sometime this year.

House Bill 388 could be sent to the full Senate next week. Planned Parenthood previously told FOX 8 that if the bill becomes law, it would impact all of the abortion providers in the state, including the facility it's building Uptown.

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