A court approved a law in Louisiana on Wednesday that would close three out of the remaining four abortion clinics in the state, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The law was passed by Governor Bobby Jindal in June 2014, but it had been held up in various courts. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allowed the law in a ruling on Wednesday, and it is set to take effect immediately.
Unless the Supreme Court takes a measure to block the law -- which they did with a similar law in Texas -- all but one abortion clinic in Louisiana will close. The Center for Reproductive Rights said they will seek action from the Supreme Court.
The law says abortion clinics must have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles.
This is a difficult requirement to meet for several reasons. Abortions are medically safe procedures, so they rarely require patients to go to a hospital -- meaning that hospitals are less likely to grant admitting privileges. Compounded with the fact that abortion is a controversial subject, hospitals are extra hesitant to grant privileges.
Legislators continue to say that they put these laws in place to help women's health, but this requirement isn't medically necessary by any means.
Nobody needs admitting privileges to be treated at a hospital. Hospitals are literally there to treat everybody who comes in, regardless of any sort of status.
The Supreme Court is hearing the Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt (formerly Cole) case next Wednesday. That is a landmark case for abortion access that questions the legality of Texas' HB 2 law. That law says clinics must meet the standards of an ambulatory surgical center and also have hospital admitting privileges.
These kinds of laws are called "TRAP" laws by pro-choice advocates, as they work to shut clinics.
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement:
In exactly one week, we will be arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court to put an end to the kinds of unjust and unconstitutional attacks on women’s rights and health that we are seeing play out right now in Louisiana.
Should the law fully go into effect, the closest clinic for many Louisiana women will be in Mississippi. That is the only abortion clinic open in the state of Mississippi -- and it may well be shut itself pending a different case over similar requirements.
As a reminder, abortion is still a Constitutionally-protected right in the United States.