Pro-choice and anti-abortion forces await judge's ruling in La.

A woman prays next a medical clinic in Metairie (Source: FOX 8 News)
A woman prays next a medical clinic in Metairie (Source: FOX 8 News)

People on both sides of the abortion issue are waiting to see if a federal judge in Louisiana will block a controversial new state law. The judge could rule over the weekend.

Pro-choice forces are seeking a temporary restraining order against the law that is to take effect in September. That law, which was approved by state lawmakers during the 2014 regular legislative session, requires that doctors who perform abortions in Louisiana have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility.

In Metairie on Friday, a woman protested next to a medical clinic that she believes performs abortions. Next door is the Woman's New Life Center, and the location is intentional.

"We really want to be here as a resource for women who are vulnerable to abortion," said Angie Thomas, CEO of Woman's New Life Center.

She said the agency provides professional counseling and medical services for women.

"We want to be here as a resource for women even as they're walking into that decision and again as they walk into our place that really proves to us they are looking for a way out," said Thomas.

Thomas said the facility receives funds from churches, religious organizations and private donors. She said she backs the new law.

"We care about women, and so that makes sense to us that doctors who are working with these women would have admitting privileges so that there's continuity of care. But more importantly, we address the needs of a person as she walks through our doors. It's not an issue that walks through our doors, so we kind of stand away from the politics of the matter," said Thomas.

But opponents of the law say getting and maintaining hospital privileges under these circumstances isn't as easy as it sounds.

"And in order for a hospital to grant admitting privileges, the hospitals want the doctors to be able to send a certain number of patients per year. But if what you do is one of the safest procedures, you're not going to be sending people to the hospital because they won't need hospitalization," said Marjorie Esman of the local ACLU.

Esman is not involved in the current court fight that aims to keep the law from taking effect. Still, Esman finds plenty to object to in terms of Act 620.

"This is not any guesswork. They openly acknowledge that the reason they did this was to make it almost impossible for a woman to get an abortion," said Esman.

She believes if the law takes hold the consequences will be dire.

"What will happen if the women of Louisiana cannot obtain safe, legal abortions? It means that they will go back to the bad old days of back alley, dangerous, self induced abortions," said Esman.

Thomas said the services they provide are not restricted to women who are conflicted in terms of abortion.

"We do offer post-abortion counseling for women who have experienced, or are experiencing trauma, regret, shame or anything like that," she said.

"This law, although it is ostensibly, they say, to protect women's health, it does nothing to protect women's health," said Esman.

And as the debate continues over abortion rights, a huge court ruling is anticipated.

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