February 2014 Victory (DHH Regulations)
UPDATED February 3, 2014 - DHH HAS RESCINDED REGULATIONS!
DHH HAS RESCINDED THE REGULATIONS! Read NOAF's press release!
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It may not be easy to get excited over 21 pages of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals regulations, but you'll want to hear about this!
Just before Thanksgiving, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) issued "emergency" regulations that overhauled the existing regulations on abortion clinics. These 21 pages of rules give DHH the authority to immediately shut down a clinic without opportunity for appeal, even for simple infractions. Clinics have stated that they would be unable to meet the burdensome and excessive requirements, and this would lead to the closure of all five clinics in Louisiana.
DHH's new regulations are another manifestation of the "TRAP" (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws that are sweeping the country. They represent an effective ban on abortion, especially for the low-income women that NOAF serves, who cannot afford to travel. Here are some examples of new provisions (thank you to Ellie T. Schilling of Schonekas, Evans, McGoey & McEachin, LLC [which represents a New Orleans-based clinic] for this breakdown):
- Each clinic who is applying for a new license must submit a "certificate of need" to the State proving the need for their services. In many other circumstances, such as any change to the location or the ownership of an existing clinic, existing clinics must apply for a brand-new license and (re-)satisfy the certificate of need requirement. The subjective nature of these requirements allows the State to severely restrict new licenses and will provide the State with a mechanism for refusing to allow existing clinics to renew their licenses to operate.
- There is no right to appeal deficiencies to any unbiased body outside of the Department of Health and Hospitals. Therefore, every deficiency that a clinic is cited with will be allowed to stand, and those deficiencies are often later used to revoke a clinic’s license on the basis of being a “repeat” offender.
- The new regulations require that all facilities have very specific square footage requirements that are far larger than any currently operating abortion facility. They would be prohibitively expensive to construct, and the requirements have no medical necessity. If the regulations are allowed to go into effect, no clinic will be in compliance on the day the regulations are implemented, and the State will have the ability to shut down every existing abortion clinic in the State.
These regulations were originally enacted without public comment and with no clear indication of need. Due to the extreme weather, a hearing scheduled for January 29 will now be held on February 4th at 1:00pm in Baton Rouge. The New Orleans Abortion Fund and members of allied organizations will be testifying and presenting written comments from advocates, providers, and women who have recently obtained abortions at affected clinics at the public hearing.
Our allies have been raising awareness (and raising hell), telling their stories of experiences with abortion restrictions, of knowing rape and incest survivors who were unable to obtain procedures, of the struggles faced by low-income women who can barely keep on the heat - let alone pay for an abortion. Because of this, DHH has already stated that it will rescind the blood test requirement [note, it has not released these updated regulations]. This was the most egregious and unconstitutional - not to mention medically-unnecessary - regulation, but it shows that DHH knows the holes in its arguments for "women's health."
***NOAF runs on donations, and over 80% of our funds go directly to fund abortion procedures! To ensure that the women we serve, who would be most affected by clinic closures, are able to get the funds they need, and to advocate for abortion funds, check out our Game-a-Thon!***