Oklahoma enacts new restrictions on abortions, Louisiana to follow

Wed May 28, 2014 4:51pm EDT
 
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By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Oklahoma, soon to be followed by Louisiana, has joined other socially conservative states in adopting laws that place new restrictions on abortions, measures that critics say are aimed at shutting abortion clinics.

Legislation in the two states require physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at an adequately equipped hospital within 30 miles (50 kms) of the place where the abortion is performed. Supporters say the measures are aimed at protecting women's health.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, signed into law the new restrictions on Wednesday and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, will sign a similar bill this week, representatives for the two said on Wednesday.

Abortion rights groups maintain the privileges provision is unnecessary because abortion complications are rare and tend to be similar to those of a miscarriage, which often are treated by emergency room physicians.

Admitting privileges generally allow a doctor who is approved by a hospital to admit a patient for treatment at the hospital.

Melissa Flournoy, Louisiana director for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, has predicted that at least three of the state's five clinics could close once the abortion bill becomes law.

"It's clear the intent of this legislation is to shut down health centers, which would have devastating consequences for women across Louisiana," Flournoy said in a statement.

The Louisiana and Oklahoma measures closely resemble laws passed in eight other states, according to Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, which follows reproductive issues worldwide.   Continued...