The measure, signed into law by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in
June and due to take effect Sept. 1, would require doctors who
perform abortions to have patient admitting privileges at a hospital
within 30 miles of their practice.
However, the judge's ruling means that for the time being doctors
can continue to perform legal abortions while seeking such
"Plaintiffs will be allowed to operate lawfully while continuing
their efforts to obtain privileges," Federal Judge John deGravelles
wrote in the decision.
A hearing will be scheduled within a month for the judge to make a
more permanent ruling on the law.
Abortion rights activists applauded the decision, the latest in a
string of rulings against similar measures, saying it would give
doctors more time to seek hospital privileges.
"Today’s ruling ensures Louisiana women are safe from an underhanded
law that seeks to strip them of their health and rights," said Nancy
Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for
Reproductive Rights, which sued to block the law on behalf of three
of the state's five clinics.
It was not immediately clear whether the ruling applied to doctors
from the two clinics who were not plaintiffs in the suit and have
also applied for admitting privileges.
Louisiana is among 11 states that have passed similar laws, with
courts recently ruling unconstitutional such measures in Alabama and
Mississippi. Key parts of a Texas law that would have shuttered most
remaining clinics in that state were blocked by a federal judge on
Abortion rights campaigners, along with the American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical
Association, say admitting privileges laws impose medically
unnecessary requirements on doctors.
[to top of second column]
Anti-abortion advocates have countered that the measures aim to
protect women's health, though some have also lauded their effect of
Only one doctor who performs abortions in Louisiana has hospital
admitting privileges, the Center for Reproductive Rights said.
If all other doctors in the state are forced to stop performing
abortions, that doctor, fearful for his safety, would stop carrying
out the procedure, the group said.
In arguing against the ruling, Louisiana officials said they would
not punish doctors performing abortions while their applications for
admitting privileges were pending.
(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in New Orleans and Barbara Goldberg
in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler and Clarence Fernandez)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.