Health

Feb 4, 2014 6:01 AM by Melinda Deslatte

DHH rescinds new La. abortion rules

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration announced Monday night it was scrapping rewritten licensing regulations for abortion clinics that abortion rights supporters had said would force all five of the state's clinics to shut down.

The Department of Health and Hospitals said it would rewrite the regulations on a later, unspecified date.

"We withdrew the rules and the emergency rule in order to correct the language governing the licensure of outpatient abortion facilities before proceeding," DHH spokeswoman Olivia Watkins said in an emailed statement Monday night. "We intend to issue a new set of proposed rules with a notice of intent in the future for public comment."

DHH had planned a Tuesday hearing about the proposed standards, but had faced loud criticism about the new requirements.

Ellie Schilling, a New Orleans lawyer advising the state's abortion clinics, said DHH added new paperwork filings, larger size mandates and increased staffing requirements and also eliminated certain appeal rights. She said that seemed aimed at making it impossible for clinics to comply with the rules.

Louisiana has among the toughest abortion restrictions in the nation.

Five clinics offer the procedure in Shreveport, Bossier City, Baton Rouge and the New Orleans area. Planned Parenthood is building a facility in New Orleans that would provide abortions, but Schilling said the new regulations would make it difficult for the clinic to obtain a license.

Last week, Watkins had said the regulations were aimed at protecting health and safety and were extensively revamped to consolidate two years of rule changes into one place.

The health department had announced earlier plans to rework some of the new regulations amid the criticism. Watkins said DHH would rescind language that required a pregnant woman to get a blood test 30 days before she could seek an abortion and it would tweak the size requirements to cover new facilities or clinics undergoing renovations.

But the changes didn't address all the concerns listed by abortion rights supporters.

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