The number of abortion clinics in Louisiana essentially fell from four to one this week after the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay on legislation that's been pending since June 2014, when Gov. Bobby Jindal signed it into law, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. The law obligates abortion providers to secure admitting privileges with local hospitals; according to ThinkProgress, that's something most of them say they won't be able to manage.
What the law really does, opponents say, is force the clinics to close. It's a blow to women's health — as abortion remains a legal service under Roe v. Wade, and is, incidentally, considered a human right by the U.N. — and the timing, especially, is worrisome.
"This is outrageous," Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in an emailed statement. "[Wednesday]'s order will shutter all but one health center in the state, putting women's health and lives at risk."
"It is irresponsible to allow this medically unnecessary restriction to go into effect less than a week before the Supreme Court will consider whether this type of law is even constitutional," she continued. "This cannot be what it means to be a woman in America in 2016."
Richards is referring to the law that shut down Texas abortion clinics briefly in 2014, on which Louisiana's measure was modeled, that, according to Planned Parenthood, dealt a crippling blow to the Lone Star State's women's health care infrastructure, slashing access to safe, legal abortions by forcing all but 10 of the state's 40 abortion-providing health care centers to close.
Texas' legislation resulted in an increase in women attempting to terminate pregnancies on their own. In Louisiana, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, as a result of the ruling it's likely the closest legal abortion clinic available for women will be in Jackson, Mississippi.
For many women, that's not very close at all. It seems reasonable, then, to expect a similar fallout to what was seen in Texas.
According to a Planned Parenthood article on MSNBC, medical professionals largely opposed Texas' law, which — as it happens — was imposed in almost exactly the same way Louisiana's has been. The Supreme Court announced in November that it would review the legislation; oral arguments are scheduled to begin March 2.
Think Progress reported some consider Texas' and Louisiana's maneuvers to be part of the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP, strategy, intended to shutter abortion clinics by weighing them down with unwieldy policy, as in admitting privileges.
"Banning abortion in Louisiana is the real reason this law was passed," Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast CEO Melaney Linton said. "When this happened in Texas, we were flooded with frantic phone calls and women lined up outside our doors. Planned Parenthood's top priority is the health and safety of our patients, and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect their access to care."
Since the care these clinics provide isn't restricted to legal abortion, many — including three that will reportedly close in Louisiana — provide an array of other services that women require to stay healthy.