An anti-choice bill targeting abortion providers passed through the GOP-controlled Louisiana legislature on Wednesday, raising fears that Louisiana will follow in the footsteps of other southern states by drastically cutting reproductive health care access.
"Opponents are waging a stealth war on abortion, and it's women and families who pay the price," said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, in an organizational statement.
HB 388 passed with a vote of 88-5 and is next headed to the desk of Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has vowed to sign it.
If implemented, the bill will require that doctors who provide abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. It will also put a cap on the number of abortions that doctors can perform annually. Reproductive health advocates warn that the restrictions would shut down nearly all of the state's five abortion facilities and drastically cut access.
The bill passed despite fierce opposition from reproductive justice advocates and health professionals, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Critics slammed claims from the bill's proponents that the legislation is aimed at protecting women's health.
"Let me be clear: This law is not about women's health. It was designed by politicians – not doctors – to end access to safe, legal abortion," ACLU's Dalven continued.
“This bill does nothing to protect women’s safety. It signals out abortion providers and holds them to an unattainable standard,” said Amy Irvin, board member of New Orleans Abortion Fund, in a statement. “HB 388 does not protect the women and families of Louisiana—it denies them their constitutionally protected right to abortion.”
"The Texas-style bill, along with the others proposed, is part of a nationwide plan to pass restrictions that will shut down women's health centers and prevent women from accessing safe and legal abortions," stated the ACLU.
The bill follows similar laws that have recently swept Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Wisconsin. Oklahoma is currently considering similar legislation.