Louisiana Abortion Clinic Sues State To Stay Open During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Apr 14, 2020

A Shreveport abortion clinic is suing the Louisiana Department of Health and the Attorney General over actions it says are meant to shut it down abortion access in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hope Medical Group for Women clinic is one of three abortion clinics in the state, and the plaintiff in numerous lawsuits against anti-abortion laws and regulations in Louisiana. It’s also the clinic at the center of a major Supreme Court case heard this spring, June Medical Services v. Russo, that could shut down every clinic in the state.

The clinic argues in the lawsuit that abortions are time-sensitive and essential health care. Clinics in Baton Rouge and New Orleans have also been operating during the pandemic.

Last week, staff from the office of Attorney General Jeff Landry inspected the Baton Rouge and Shreveport abortion clinics, part of a new task force Landry’s office created to investigate a possible violation of a March 21 health department directive ordering that all elective medical and surgical procedures be postponed “until further notice.”

Exceptions were made for emergency medical conditions, or if an absence of case would place a patient's health in serious jeopardy, serious impairment of bodily functions or dysfunction of organs.

The directive did not single out whether abortions were “elective,” and left the distinction up to physicians.

In a press release from late March, Landry said that abortion clinics continuing to operate were “dangerously putting countless people at further risk” and that the Hope clinic was “putting their profits over the health and safety of the public.”

The governor said last week that abortion might be elective, depending on the circumstances. He did not clarify what those circumstances might be.

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