Abortion Restrictions Advance in the House

Mar 20, 2014

Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe), center, and Louisiana Family Forum president Gene Mills, right.

A bill that would impose tighter restrictions on abortion providers is headed to the House floor. Monroe Representative Katrina Jackson is the author of the measure, HB 388, which requires any doctor who performs more than five abortions annually to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of his or her practice. That rule is not just for those who perform surgical abortions, either. It’s required for doctors prescribing the so-called “abortion pill”, also known as RU-486.

“There is a pill now that induces abortions up to a certain number of weeks,” Jackson told House Health and Welfare committee members. “It includes that pill.”

Jackson’s bill has the backing of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, with DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert saying, “It will help strengthen the department’s ability to protect mothers and unborn children.”

Several members of right-to-life groups testified in support of the bill, as did Gene Mills with the Louisiana Family Forum. Because of those endorsements, Natchitoches Representative Kenny Cox wanted clarification of the bill’s purpose.

“This is not denying anybody anything?” Cox asked. “This is a safety issue, am I correct?”

“That is correct,” Jackson responded, adding, “This is not denying anyone contraceptive. It’s not denying anyone an abortion.”

Opponents of the bill disagreed with that assessment.

“What this bill will do is make abortion less safe,” Ellie Schilling, an attorney who represents several of the state’s abortion clinics, told committee members. She says it will reduce access to abortion providers.

“This bill will immediately close three out of five of the existing clinics in this state, and there will be no clinic south of Shreveport,” Schilling said.

The measure is similar to one passed in Texas last year. It has closed a dozen clinics in that state.

Even though fewer people here spoke in support than in opposition to Jackson’s bill, the committee advanced it--with a favorable report, and without opposition.