The state’s five outpatient abortion clinics – two of them in the Archdiocese of New Orleans – should be subject to “common-sense regulations” similar to those governing other medical professionals and facilities, said Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) is examining the regulations under which abortion clinics operate, and updated rules are expected to be issued in the near future, Clapper said.
Last November, DHH issued expanded regulations on an “emergency basis,” but the rules were withdrawn Feb. 4 when state officials expressed concern that some of the new policies – such as requiring a woman to undergo a blood test 30 days before having an abortion – might not stand legal muster.
Clapper said the state did not consult Louisiana Right to Life before writing the November regulations, but he said it makes sense for DHH to use extreme care in writing regulations so that ultimately they are not ruled unconstitutional.
Women less likely to report
Clapper also said it is critical that abortion facilities be carefully regulated because women who seek abortions, often confidentially, are much less likely to report medical complaints or other safety violations.
“That’s why it’s even more important for the state to make common-sense regulations to govern an abortion facility’s practices,” Clapper said. “We believe the state has to protect the woman. We understand that some pro-lifers will get enraged and say, ‘Well, I don’t want abortion facilities anyway.’ You have to remember, in an era where abortion is legal, we have to make sure the facility regulations are as strong and as tough as we can make them and also withstand legal scrutiny.”
DHH is examining the final form of the new regulations, Clapper said. When the regulations are complete, the department will hold a public hearing to allow comments on the rule changes.
Clapper expects DHH will look at the abortion providers and craft rules that comply with “national standards for outpatient surgical facilities.” If a rule is found unconstitutional, the state could be liable for paying attorneys fees to the pro-abortion side.
“I think the Department of Health has a fiscal responsibility to the state to make sure these regulations can withstand legal scrutiny,” he said.
The state’s five abortion clinics are located in New Orleans (the Women’s Health Care Center), Metairie (the Causeway Medical Clinic), Shreveport, Baton Rouge and Bossier City. In years past, Clapper said, Causeway Medical Clinic on Ridgelake Drive performed the most abortions in the state, but the Shreveport clinic, located close to Texas, now performs the most.
Abortion expansion sought
If Planned Parenthood Gulf South constructs its regional abortion center in New Orleans on South Claiborne Avenue, it will be the first time Planned Parenthood has performed abortions in Louisiana.
Also, Clapper said, the new regional abortion clinic will put financial pressure on the smaller clinics.
“It’s like Walmart and the little, mom-and-pop grocery stores,” Clapper said.
Clapper praised Archbishop Gregory Aymond for his Feb. 1 open letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese of New Orleans in which he cautioned that any person or business “involved in the acquisition, preparation and construction of this (abortion) facility” would be “cooperating with the evil that will take place there.”
“That should be a model for other religious leaders, not only in this state but in other areas,” Clapper said. “When you have such a powerful institution in this city saying this, it makes people notice who Planned Parenthood really is.”