Court Rules LA Abortion Clinic Can Remain Open
A state court ruled on Tuesday that an abortion clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana, will remain open until legal proceedings regarding its license suspension have concluded. The Shreveport Times reports that the Hope Medical Group for Women's license was suspended on September 3 after a Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) inspection found violations at the clinic. The clinic later reopened temporarily under the order of a judge, but the most recent ruling ensures that it will remain open until legal issues are resolved.
Last week, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the DHH on behalf of the clinic. The lawsuit claims that the license suspension is both unconstitutional and unnecessary, according to a press release from the Center. Hope Medical Group states that the most of its alleged violations were corrected quickly and that the only remaining issues were record-keeping violations that did not pose an immediate health or safety threat to patients.
The Shreveport Times indicates that the clinic was shut down under a new Louisiana law that allows health department officials to suspend an abortion clinic's license if they find violations that are an immediate threat to patients' health or safety. Prior to the law, clinics could undergo a second inspection before license suspension and could continue operations while appealing a suspension.
On Monday, the Center for Reproductive Rights, along with five abortion clinics and one doctor, filed a federal lawsuit against Louisiana because of the new regulation. The lawsuit alleges that the regulation encourages discriminatory enforcement against abortion clinics and does not allow them the same opportunities that other health care facilities receive to correct violations prior to license suspension and immediate closure, according to the Associated Press. Bonnie Scott Jones of the Center for Reproductive Rights told the Associated Press, "This law leaves abortion facilities vulnerable to arbitrary and inconsistent treatment by the health department and ultimately harms women's health instead of protecting it." The lawsuit claims that the regulations enable DHH to suspend a clinic's license over violations as minimal as failure to keep patient records in watertight containers.
Media Resources: Shreveport Times 9/21/10, 9/21/10; Center for Reproductive Rights Press Release 9/21/10; Associated Press 9/21/10