All three Louisiana abortion clinics are leaving the state, staff say
Louisiana’s last three abortion clinics will relocate to other states, staff confirmed, after a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling Friday allowed the state’s near-total abortion ban to remain in effect.
The moves will leave Louisiana without an abortion clinic for the first time since 1974.
“I'm just not ready to walk away,” Kathaleen Pittman, the administrator of Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, told New Orleans Public Radio of the decision to relocate.
Hope, Women’s Health Care Center in New Orleans and Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge are all in the process of moving to states where abortions remain legal, though staff for those clinics declined to say where they would relocate to.
The Shreveport clinic has been the plaintiff, along with Medical Students for Choice, in a challenge against the state’s near-total ban since the days immediately following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. A spokesperson for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is part of the team representing the clinic, said litigation against the ban is still ongoing despite the state Supreme Court’s ruling Friday.
Pittman called the Louisiana’s Supreme Court’s decision to keep the law in effect, “devastating, when I think of the women who are now going to be denied care.”
Louisiana’s law bans abortions except in rare cases to save a pregnant person’s life or when the fetus wouldn’t survive birth. The law has no exceptions for rape or incest.
Louisiana’s ban has caused uncertainty and fear inside hospitals, where doctors fear prosecution for providing reproductive health care. A woman who was 16 weeks pregnant when her water broke was denied an abortion because of the law, and was forced to deliver a non-viable fetus.
Staff said the New Orleans and Baton Rouge clinics – which have the same owner – expect to move within the next three months. Pittman did not provide a timeline for the Shreveport clinic’s move.
In a statement, Pittman said Louisiana’s near-total ban has made it “impossible” for Hope to keep its doors open. Clinic employees shifted their duties to answering phones and helping Louisiana women find abortion clinics by directing them to abortionfinder.org and ineedana.com.
“I feel as if I'm in the Twilight Zone, and this dimension where nothing really makes sense,” Pittman said.
Supporters of the Hope clinic, which opened in 1980, have launched a $100,000 GoFundMe campaign to help with the clinic’s moving costs.