All 3 abortion clinics in Louisiana cease providing procedure after Supreme Court decision
Louisiana’s three abortion clinics have stopped providing the procedure as of Friday, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that overturned Roe. v Wade.
Staff at Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge and Women’s Health Care Center in New Orleans confirmed Friday that they were no longer providing abortions to pregnant patients and instead are recommending patients go to Colorado or California, where abortion remains legal.
The opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which was decided by a 6-3 conservative majority, ends constitutional abortion protections and gives states the right to craft their own abortion laws. It’s expected to trigger near-total abortion bans in 22 states.
Louisiana is one of three states with a trigger law that immediately bans nearly all abortions with Roe v. Wade overturned, including banning abortions in cases of rape and incest.
Louisiana’s trigger law carries three exceptions. Women whose lives are at risk as a result of pregnancy will still legally be able to get abortions. So will those with ectopic pregnancies — pregnancies where the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, a condition that is life-threatening. Abortions also remain legal in instances where the fetus is deemed “medically futile,” meaning it would die upon birth.
The state’s three clinics had been preparing to stop abortion procedures as soon as the opinion was released, in order to comply with the law. The clinics had been fully booked, trying to see as many patients as they could in the days leading up to the decision. They had been inundated with patients since last fall, when a Texas law banned abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, sending thousands of Texas women to seek abortions in nearby states. Appointments were being made weeks in advance.
Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge and Women’s Health Care Center in New Orleans both had provided abortions up to 19 weeks of pregnancy. Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport had been providing abortions up to 16 weeks of pregnancy.
Louisiana also had a 72-hour waiting period between a first appointment and actually getting an abortion — a new law that took effect this year and compounded the delays in getting an abortion in the state.
In the days before the Supreme Court ruling, Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge had stopped booking new patients. Hope Medical Group had a waiting list that was 400 patients long.
Kathaleen Pittman, the clinic administrator at Hope, said some of the patients included women who’d been referred to the clinic by their doctors because of a pregnancy that threatened their health. The number one reason patients give for wanting an aboriton is financial, Pittman said.
But the Hope clinic hasn’t fully shut its doors. It will still be seeing patients who’ve already had abortions for follow-up care in the coming days.
“We are certainly not going to abandon our patients,” Pittman said.
She said staff were concerned for their jobs, but also for the patients they won’t be able to help.
Still, the short term legal fate of the clinics remains unclear. Lawsuits in the coming days and weeks could seek to push back against Louisiana’s trigger law.
"We expect a flurry of lawsuits in the days after a decision” across the country, Jenny Ma, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in an interview in the weeks before the decision. The center represents the Hope clinic and Jackson Women’s Health Organization — the Mississippi abortion clinic that fought the Supreme Court case.
Ma expected “chaos and confusion” with Roe overturned.
“States have passed numerous laws that are vague and conflicting including trigger bans,” Ma said. “We’re looking at every avenue to fight for reproductive rights and maternal care at the state and federal levels.”
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Pittman said Louisiana’s ban will put women’s health at risk.
“It's crazy,” she said. “I anticipate seeing a lot more poor maternal outcomes, more adverse events during pregnancy, more maternal deaths.”
Louisiana’s ban will likely impact young Black women the most. The majority of abortion patients in the state are Black women in their 20s and early 30s, according to state data. One 2015 study found three-quarters of abortion patients have already given birth, and they’re more likely to come from the most impoverished parishes.
Last year, 7,444 abortions were reported to the Louisiana Department of Health. Only 163 of those abortions appeared to be cases that would still be legal in the state now that the trigger law has taken effect.
Digital Editor Katelyn Umholtz contributed to this report.