Louisiana Is So Pumped to Close Abortion Clinics and Further Erode Women's Health Care Rights

Gov. Bobby Jindal with some Duck Dynasty dudeIn the coming days, Gov. Bobby Jindal is preparing to strike several blows to reproductive freedom in Louisiana. Three bills that will compromise the health, safety and rights of women are before him awaiting signature. Since assuming office in 2008, Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed 13 pieces of legislation curtailing women's reproductive freedoms, making Louisiana the most anti-choice state in the United States.

HB 388, or "The Unsafe Abortion Protection Act," is modeled on a 2013 Texas law, which resulted in the closure of a third of the state's abortion clinics. Sources on the ground say the Jindal-backed bill is "likely to shutter most clinics," forcing women in southern Louisiana to drive up to 400 miles each way to obtain an abortion.

The bill requires physicians who provide abortion services to have active admitting privileges at a hospital that provides obstetrical-gynecological services within 30 miles of their clinic. But of course, nothing in the bill requires hospitals to grant admitting privileges to doctors — and many anti-choice hospitals routinely deny or simply ignore the requests. Currently, only two of Louisiana's five abortion clinics meet such harsh regulations, meaning that the remaining three face immediate closure.

While supporters of such anti-choice measures claim that further regulation works to protect women, it is clear that that these anti-choice laws are strategic attempts to reduce women's access to reproductive services by creating unnecessary requirements that few abortion clinics can actually meet.

In fact, abortions are already a very safe procedure, with clinics under regulation by both federal and state laws, as any other health care facility.

Last week Jindal took to his Twitter page to publicly express his enthusiasm to complete the passage of the bill:

Bobby Jindal Tweet HB388.png

But, this isn't the only extremist anti-choice measure that Jindal seems overjoyed to force upon the women of Louisiana...

Bobby Jindal Tweet HB305.png

This second bill, HB 305, would prevent staff and volunteers of, or organizations affiliated with, abortion providers from distributing materials on any health topic in all public and charter schools that receive state funding. This means that organizations with the most expertise on women's health, such as Planned Parenthood, would be prohibited from guiding necessary discussions on "human sexuality or family planning" throughout the state. Louisiana teens — like many young people across the country — are in desperate need of basic, unbiased, comprehensive sex education; this bill would make a bad situation even worse.

Louisiana's legislature hasn't stopped there. A third bill that would force anti-choice propaganda on every woman seeking abortion in the state, HB 1261, is now also before Governor Jindal. The bill would require that a woman seeking abortion care be isolated in a private room where she must read counseling materials created by a governor's task force, including a pamphlet about the "alleged psychological effects of abortion."

About that task force: it's looking like Gov. Jindal is packing it with anti-choice state politicians and advocates, including two counselors from crisis pregnancy centers, which are fake clinics that are known for lying to women. If that wasn't sketchy enough, according to the Times-Picayune, "no abortion providers or mental health professionals that recommend abortions would be allowed on the panel." What are the chances that this task force is going to produce unbiased, fact-based information? Probably zero.

These measures in Louisiana mirror laws enacted throughout several Southern states in recent legislative sessions. Together, these measures have nearly created a no-access zone that limits women's access to abortion and reproductive health facilities under the cover of heightening safety and protecting women's health. Since they have been unsuccessful banning abortion outright, anti-choice groups have turned to these tactics to virtually ban abortion by making it almost completely unavailable in regions of the country. What region will they focus on next?

Lydia Paver is an intern in the political department at NARAL Pro-Choice America.
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