Louisiana regulations force women to wait 30 days before accessing abortion

New "emergency" regulations will force women to wait 30 days between blood tests and the procedure

Published January 27, 2014 9:17PM (EST)

               (AP/Orlin Wagner)
(AP/Orlin Wagner)

Recently implemented "emergency" regulations in Louisiana will force patients seeking abortion services to wait a month before accessing the procedure by requiring all patients to have certain blood tests done 30 days before their procedures.

As reported by Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check, the state's Department of Health and Hospitals also implemented a series of TRAP-style requirements that may soon shutter each of Louisiana's five abortion providers. “If these rules go into effect, the Department of Health and Hospitals will have the ability to start shutting clinics down just based on what the size of the facilities has always been,” Ellie Schilling, an attorney who represents several abortion clinics in the state, said of the new requirements.

More from RH Reality Check:

Schilling says the new regulations appear to mirror legislative actions like those recently taken in Texas, which require abortion providers to make extensive physical plant modifications. Schilling also said Louisiana’s new rules severely limit abortion providers’ access to due process in appealing any citations or violations issued to them by DHH, and make it virtually impossible for abortion facility licensees to maintain licenses in good standing if facility ownership changes, or if facilities move locations. These specific new requirements are not, said Schilling, required by statute. [...]

The new DHH rules say that “this action is being taken to promote the health and welfare of Louisiana citizens by assuring the health and safety of women seeking health care services at licensed abortion facilities,” but some of the regulations directly contradict best medical practices.

For example, DHH requires patients to have certain blood tests run on hematocrit and hemoglobin levels 30 days before their procedures.

“Not only is this unjust for the women, it is contraindicated from a medical standpoint, in that hematocrits should be as current as possible,” Pittman explained.

In fact, the new DHH regulations could decrease patient safety, putting patients at a higher risk of complications. As pregnancy advances, procedures become more involved and more costly, said Ellie Schilling. And because Louisiana already bans abortion after 20 weeks, a patient who seeks a legal abortion at 16 weeks could be forced either to seek an illegal abortion or to forego the procedure altogether after waiting 30 days for a blood test.

The state DHH has scheduled a public hearing on the regulations for Wednesday. More to come as this story develops.

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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