Louisiana Rules Would Have Required 30-Day Waiting Period Before Legal Abortion (UPDATED)

Update, January 28, 9:00 a.m. Eastern: Monday night, a spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals told RH Reality Check that it will “be rescinding the language regarding the 30-day period for blood tests,” and that it intends to “clarify” the building requirements for abortion facilities, saying that “the intent of the language on square footage in the rule is to cover prospective facilities or facilities undergoing renovations.” Despite the department’s passage of the rules without input from providers and without a previous public hearing, DHH says it “has already received several public comments regarding the rule.” A public hearing on the new rules has been moved to February 4 at DHH in Baton Rouge at 1 p.m.

New “emergency” abortion regulations in Louisiana require patients to wait 30 days between blood tests and their abortion procedures, according to the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), which has also enacted new physical plant requirements, licensing procedures, and staffing rules that may soon have the effect of shuttering all five of Louisiana’s legal abortion providers.

“If these rules go into effect, the Department of Health and Hospitals will have the ability to start shutting clinics down just based on what the size of the facilities has always been,” said Ellie Schilling, a New Orleans attorney who represents several Louisiana abortion clinics. She discussed the most severe of the new regulations with RH Reality Check in advance of a DHH public hearing on abortion facilities in Baton Rouge on Wednesday.

Schilling says the new regulations appear to mirror legislative actions like those recently taken in Texas, which require abortion providers to make extensive physical plant modifications. Schilling also said Louisiana’s new rules severely limit abortion providers’ access to due process in appealing any citations or violations issued to them by DHH, and make it virtually impossible for abortion facility licensees to maintain licenses in good standing if facility ownership changes, or if facilities move locations. These specific new requirements are not, said Schilling, required by statute.

“They’re tripling the size of what procedure rooms need to be,” said Schilling. “Nobody else has to comply with this, even general hospitals don’t have requirements like this for procedure rooms, separate recovery rooms.” The rules even dictate what specific kind of flooring materials abortion facilities must use.

Louisiana DHH lists the rules as “effective” as of November 20, 2013, but a Louisiana abortion facility staffer told RH Reality Check that state health officials have not yet officially attempted to enforce the regulations, or cite clinics for failing to build newly required enlarged operating rooms and recovery areas. She also told RH Reality Check that the state failed to seek input from any abortion stakeholders, and drafted the rules without notice to abortion providers.

“None of the abortion care providers in Louisiana were aware of these new regulations until they were published as emergency rules,” said Kathaleen Pittman, an administrator at Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport. “We were allowed no input in drafting them.”

The new DHH rules say that “this action is being taken to promote the health and welfare of Louisiana citizens by assuring the health and safety of women seeking health care services at licensed abortion facilities,” but some of the regulations directly contradict best medical practices.

For example, DHH requires patients to have certain blood tests run on hematocrit and hemoglobin levels 30 days before their procedures.

“Not only is this unjust for the women, it is contraindicated from a medical standpoint, in that hematocrits should be as current as possible,” Pittman explained.

In fact, the new DHH regulations could decrease patient safety, putting patients at a higher risk of complications. As pregnancy advances, procedures become more involved and more costly, said Ellie Schilling. And because Louisiana already bans abortion after 20 weeks, a patient who seeks a legal abortion at 16 weeks could be forced either to seek an illegal abortion or to forego the procedure altogether after waiting 30 days for a blood test.

“It’s definitely being done as a back-door abortion ban,” said Schilling. “It’s clearly unconstitutional. It clearly creates an undue burden on access.”

Louisiana DHH has scheduled a public hearing on the new regulations for this Wednesday, January 29, at 9:30 a.m., weather permitting. The New Orleans Abortion Fund has more information on the hearing and how to submit written comments to the department.

A DHH spokesperson said she was not immediately able to respond to RH Reality Check‘s inquiries on Monday.

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  • HeilMary1

    Would CHILD-FREE billionaire sex tourist Rush Limbaugh wait 30 days between popping each STOLEN Viagra pill? How come we sl*ts don’t get to see the HIS sex videos from his sex tourism?! — after all, we taxpayers paid for his stolen Viagra and off-shore bank accounts!

    • VeggieTart

      Because seeing Rush Limbaugh fully clothed is bad enough. Come to think of it, the kind of guys who want to make it hard for women to access reproductive health care are the guys no sensible woman wants to see naked, much less fuck.

      But I FULLY agree that these men should have to wait 30 days before getting access to Viagra.

      • Diane Stanley

        They should be required to have a rectal examination and then wait 30 days.

        • VeggieTart

          I think a Virginia delegate actually proposed that when the males were proposing legislation the whole ultrasound-before-abortion thing was going on. She suggested that guys who want Viagra should have to submit to a rectal exam and a stress test. It did not go over well with the boys.

          • HeilMary1

            And their wives, bishops, parishioners, constituents and police departments should be notified in advance.

          • lady_black

            But, but… it’s for their HEALTH!

    • HeilMary1

      How about all Louisiana restaurants and bars make GOPers wait 30 DAYS before being served their food and alcohol orders?!

    • lady_black

      That’s a mental picture I can’t un-see….

  • Julie Flores Hammell

    Yeah, pretty sure this is unconstitutional. It will be struck down.

  • rogerrramjet

    The republican war on women continues. There is no hope for La unless some really wealthy person(s) steps up and covers all the costs of doing such. You would think someone like Soros or Clinton or Gates or any of a thousand liberal multimillionaires would step up and cover the costs. If I was wealthy it would already be done.

    • Ramanusia

      Cover what costs exactly? Why flush money down the drain in trying to comply with things that are on their face ridiculous?

      These are things that are unconstitutional and must be fought in the courts, you don’t follow the dictates of the truly insane, that just ends up going nowhere. If you were wealthy, I certainly hope you’d be spending your money investing in the organizations that fight these ridiculous abuses of the Constitution or aid women in the mean time to help them access care, and not on special flooring for clinics that is wholly unnecessary.

    • lady_black

      This is about costs that don’t need to be “covered.” What needs to happen is for a court to slap them down. This they cannot do.

  • fiona64

    *Thirty days*? All this does is make the situation *worse,* by forcing women to wait for so long. Anyone want to wager that it will then be “I’m sorry, Jane; we can’t terminate this pregnancy because you’re too far along?”

    • ghhshirley

      That is the regulation’s purpose. Horror show.

  • MaiaDoe

    Medical nonsense, blood tests should not be older than one week.

    • lady_black

      And that’s stretching it. I had to have my pre-op blood work done no more than 5 days before surgery.

  • ghhshirley

    Please follow link towards end of article: “The New Orleans Abortion Fund has more information on the hearing and how to submit written comments to the department.”

    to submit your comments. HURRY!

  • dumbrepublicans

    People need to LISTEN and THINK before they go to the polls. And women better get out and VOTE in every election every year. That, besides bringing lawsuits, is the ONLY way women are going to have any fair shake in life in the US at all. It is absolutely clear if left to Republicans, and specifically, those no-brained asses from the Tea Party, women will have no say in their reproductive lives, they will have no vote, they will have no protection against predatory men, and they will have no equality in pay. These moves by these male chauvinistic men are serious threats to the rights of women in the US. These moves, including the refusal of Congress to pass legislation from funding to gun control, is the end of democracy if we do not STAND UP AND GET RID OF THE TEA PARTY.

  • Pammila Allen

    This is devastating. There are going to be a lot of women seeking service that won’t know in a timely manner of the delay. The right does not care about the life of the fetus, they just want to subject women to harm. It makes me so mad they can get away with this underhanded sneaky process of not notifying the public of laws up for passage. It is going to be disheartening trying to combat this one, they might be stuck without service for a very long time disputing this in the courts. Women are going to just need to leave state for services else where. Hope this can be disputed and struck down. There should be criminal consequences for this kind of illegal activity.

  • Diane Stanley

    These assholes make me sick. Abortion is legal, LEAVE IT ALONE!!!

  • lady_black

    A thirty day old H&H is about as valid as one done a year ago. That’s nuts. And I’m sure they didn’t ask any doctors about that.

  • Anon rust

    “the new regulations appear to mirror legislative actions like those recently taken in Texas”

    THIS. This is the “model legislation’ that the Americans United for Life cooked up and spread to all the states to follow suit as outlined in their “Defense of Life” manual.