Abortion clinics sue over Louisiana state law

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by Associated Press

wwltv.com

Posted on November 18, 2010 at 7:56 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 18 at 9:46 AM

BATON ROUGE, La. -- A third challenge to Louisiana's new abortion-clinic laws was filed Wednesday in Baton Rouge federal court.

Five abortion clinics in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Metairie and Bossier City allege in their civil suit that state regulatory officials now can shut them down for any alleged violation before they can appeal that decision.

"Unlike a hospital and some other licensed medical facilities, an outpatient abortion facility no longer has the right to a suspensive appeal," the plaintiffs claim in their lawsuit assigned to U.S. District Judge James J. Brady.

"Thus, if the outpatient abortion facility files an administrative appeal, it will still be deprived of its license, cannot operate, and cannot generate revenue to avoid bankruptcy during the pendency of the appeal," the plaintiffs alleged.

Attorneys for the clinics said in the suit the new law violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution "by treating outpatient abortion facilities differently than all other medical facilities."

The suit was filed by Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge; Choice Inc. of Texas, doing business as Causeway Medical Clinic in Metairie; Bossier City Medical Suite Inc. in Bossier City; and two New Orleans clinics, Midtown Medical LLC and Women's Health Care Center Inc.

A sixth plaintiff is a physician identified only as John Doe, M.D.

The same clinics and a sixth in Shreveport, Hope Medical Group for Women, sued the state in August over two other alleged unconstitutional elements of Louisiana's new abortion laws.

One of those laws bans abortion doctors from participation in a state-run medical malpractice fund available to physicians who do not perform abortions, the clinics allege in that pending suit.

The clinics also allege in that suit that another new law unconstitutionally requires women about to undergo abortions to have ultrasound examinations and receive notice that they are entitled to photographs of those images.

Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph E. Tyson initially granted a temporary restraining order against enforcement of those two new laws.

But Tyson dissolved that order a week later after both sides agreed that state officials must provide the affected women with a list of facilities that provide free ultrasound services. Both sides also agreed the women cannot be compelled to receive an ultrasound image.

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