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For Immediate Release
Aug. 31, 2014
Contact: Sandy Cunningham

Judge Grants Limited TRO on HB 388 
LARTL Appreciates deGravelles' fairness, 
looks forward to eventual full implementation of new law

BATON ROUGE, La. - U.S. Federal District Court Judge John deGravelles issued a "limited" temporary restraining order this evening, allowing abortion physicians who are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state who have pending admitting privileges applications at hospitals to continue performing abortions until hospitals reach a decision on their applications.  


The state defendants, recognizing the precedent of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals when it ruled in a similar Texas case that physicians with pending applications could not be penalized, offered this as a compromise to the abortion plaintiffs Friday.  The abortion plaintiffs rejected this compromise, seeking instead a full temporary restraining order that would have gone beyond the 5th Circuit's decision. Judge deGravelles has rejected this request. 


Judge deGravelles ordered that there will be a status conference within 30 days to receive updates on the status of admitting privilege applications. At that point, the parties will discuss how to proceed on the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction, which will go to the underlying constitutional merits of Louisiana's Unsafe Abortion Protection Act.


Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, issued the following statement on tonight's decision:


"HB 388 was overwhelmingly approved by the Louisiana Legislature as a measure to promote the continuity of care and protect the health and safety of Louisiana women. Prompt implementation of HB 388 will allow Louisiana to raise the standard of care in Louisiana abortion facilities sooner rather than later. While any delay of the law is a setback to that goal, we believe Judge deGravelles' limited decision was a fair one. 


"We recognize that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals already ruled in its Texas decision that physicians with pending admitting privileges applications could continue performing abortions. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has already stated it would respect the 5th Circuit's decision. Judge deGravelles, in a fair manner, simply applied the 5th Circuit's logic in his decision.


"Unfortunately, the abortion industry's attorneys rejected the state's offered compromise on Friday and demanded the halting of the law completely. They are interested only in preventing the patient-centered standards from taking effect instead of working with the state to find a fair way to move forward.  The decision this evening allows the law to go into effect but provides time for hospitals to respond to the abortion physicians' applications. 


"Since abortion was legalized in the United States, the abortion industry has virtually opposed every common-sense effort to raise medical standards at abortion facilities and give women more information about abortion and their options. They have done it again in fighting the implementation of Act 620 (HB 388). These abortion facilities want less oversight so they can sell more abortions.  


"The legal process is far from over. We thank Judge deGravelles for his fair and impartial proceedings and look forward to further litigation and the eventual full implementation of Act 620."    


More on the decision:


Act 620 (HB 388), the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, will go into effect Monday.  The law has not been enjoined or restrained completely.  If one of the litigating physicians has pending applications at a local hospital, he or she will be able to continue performing abortions until he or she receives a response from the hospital. This means the abortion facilities in Shreveport, Bossier City and Metairie will remain open since physicians there have pending applications at local hospitals. The Baton Rouge and New Orleans abortion facilities are not party to the lawsuit and therefore must abide by Act 620. It is not clear the status of admitting privileges at these facilities. 


Act 620, which easily passed in the Louisiana Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal on June 12, requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their facility. The law was set to go into effect Sept. 1. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the court challenge Aug. 22 on behalf of three of the state's five abortion facilities and two abortion physicians.  


During a hearing Thursday, attorneys representing the DHH and other defendants argued that there was no reason for a restraining order as they would abide by the 5th Circuit ruling. Attorneys for the plaintiff-abortion facilities and doctors told the court the state had not made that offer before Thursday's hearing.


Judge deGravelles, who urged both sides to come to an agreement on the handling of pending privileges, asked attorney Kyle Duncan to get DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert to sign a declaration reiterating the fact that she would not initiate action against any doctor until hospitals had made a decision on their pending applications for admitting privileges.


Duncan submitted that document to the court Thursday afternoon and offered it as a reasonable compromise to the plaintiffs. On Friday, however, the possible agreement between the parties broke down. 


With any chance of agreement gone, Judge deGravelles released his decision determining that abortion physicians with pending privilege applications can continue performing abortions. However, Judge deGravelles limited the decision to the litigating abortion physicians and specified that if a physician does not receive admitting privileges, he or she cannot continue performing abortions.  Because of this, deGravelles stopped short of issuing a complete TRO.




   If you would like to interview Benjamin Clapper on this decision, he can be reached at 504.228.4273.
Louisiana Right to Life | Lighting the Way to a Pro-Life Louisiana Since 1970 | 1.866.463.5433 |

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