Louisiana Health Officials ‘Rescind’ Abortion Rules Hours Before Hearing

Health officials in Louisiana announced Monday evening that they are “rescinding” new “emergency” rules governing abortion providers in the state. The announcement came the night before a scheduled hearing on the new rules, which, in part, would have mandated extensive physical refurbishments for outpatient abortion facilities with which no existing abortion provider would have been able to immediately comply.

Abortion providers said that they were never given an opportunity to comment on the new rules, and that the rules were passed in an “emergency” form without a statutory mandate.

A spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) said that state officials will not hear testimony for or against the new rules on Tuesday morning, as originally planned.

“The Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) is rescinding its November 2013 emergency rule for outpatient abortion facilities licensing standards,” said DHH spokesperson Olivia Watkins in a statement. “The Department will reissue a revised rule and notice of intent at a later date.”

Louisiana reproductive justice advocates had planned to meet at the DHH headquarters in Baton Rouge on Tuesday to give testimony against the new rules, which in their original form required a 30-day waiting period between blood tests and legal abortion procedures. Shortly after those original rules were announced in late January, DHH said it would “rescind” the portion concerning the blood tests. Now, it has rescinded the entire set of rules pending “a revised rule and notice of intent at a later date.”

Reproductive justice advocates who had already made their way to Baton Rouge for the hearing plan to host a celebratory rally on Tuesday afternoon.

“DHH tried to derail this movement by canceling the hearing late in the evening,” said New Orleans Abortion Fund (NOAF) board member Amy Irvin in a press release. “NOAF will continue to hold DHH and all Louisiana officials accountable for transparent, democratic proceedings that are done in good faith.”

Irvin and her allies will gather on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at the Bienville Building in Baton Rouge to celebrate what they describe as a “tremendous victory for grassroots organizing, abortion access, and government transparency.”

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