Update: The Law That Could Leave This State With Just One Abortion Clinic Has Been Blocked — For Now

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Update: The United States Supreme Court has ordered a stay on a Louisiana law regulating abortion providers in the state, the Associated Press reported Friday afternoon. The measure, which required doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, is similar to the Texas law at the center of the Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which was heard by the court on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court’s order means that the law will not be enforced while it is still being challenged in the courts. But at least two clinics, in Baton Rouge and Bossier City, have already had to stop providing abortions, the AP said.

This story was originally published on February 25, 2016.

A federal appeals court in Louisiana has handed down a ruling that could force three of the state's four abortion clinics to close. The ruling by New Orleans' Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals allows a 2014 state law to take effect amid an ongoing legal challenge, The Guardian reports. The law requires doctors who provide abortion services to have relationships with local hospitals. Now, abortion clinics in Bossier City and Baton Rouge are expected to close as a result of the decision. Experts believe one of the remaining two state clinics will also shut down. "That one clinic just obviously can't meet the need for safe and legal abortion in Louisiana," David Brown, attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said during a conference call Thursday. "And so we don't know what will happen to women, but effectively, they're going to be turned away from clinics and have to make do on their own."
Jeff Landry, Louisiana's attorney general, defended the law, telling The Guardian that it is "a reasonable, common-sense safety measure." Louisiana's restrictions have been compared to a measure in Texas that requires doctors at abortion clinics to "have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic where they practice," The Washington Post explains. Oral arguments in an ongoing effort to overturn that law are set to be heard by the United States Supreme Court next week. Advocates for reproductive rights have argued that Texas and Louisiana already limit access to safe and legal abortions. According to Planned Parenthood, Texas women have traveled to Louisiana to obtain legal abortions. Planned Parenthood also found that hundreds of thousands of women in Texas have attempted to perform their own abortions due to lack of access to legal services. "When a similar law passed in Texas, women were forced to drive hundreds of miles, leave the state, or take matters into their own hands," Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "This cannot be what it means to be a woman in America in 2016."

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