BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — With no debate, the Louisiana House overwhelmingly backed new abortion regulations Monday that would require doctors performing the procedure to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Abortion-rights supporters say the legislation by Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, would shut down three of Louisiana's five abortion clinics, closing all facilities in south Louisiana and leaving two in the Shreveport area.
Despite the criticism, the bill sailed through the House with an 85-6 vote. It heads next to the Senate for debate and is supported by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Jackson said her proposal would ensure women have access to proper care if they have complications during an abortion.
"This is about the safety of women and making sure that every physician performing surgeries, including abortions, does so in a prudent manner and with a woman's health in mind," she said.
No one asked any questions or raised any concerns on the House floor.
The bill would require doctors who perform abortions to have privileges to admit patients at a hospital within 30 miles. Texas recently enacted a similar regulation, which is blamed for closing 19 abortion clinics and which was upheld by the federal appeals court in New Orleans.
Abortion-rights supporters say the measure would add burdensome and medically unnecessary requirements that are designed to close clinics and limit access to abortions in a state that has repeatedly enacted new restrictions on the procedure.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood said women in south Louisiana could be forced to drive up to 400 miles to get to an abortion clinic, if the proposal wins final passage.
"The intent of this legislation is to restrict access to safe, legal abortion, plain and simple. Numerous existing restrictions enacted in recent years have contributed to extremely limited access to safe and legal abortion in Louisiana," said Melissa Flournoy, Louisiana state director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.
Jackson's bill would force women who take the abortion pill to meet the same 24-hour waiting period and ultrasound requirements as women who have surgical abortions. It wouldn't, however, apply to emergency contraceptives, known as the "morning-after pill."
The proposal also would require a doctor who performs more than five abortions a year to meet the health and safety inspections required of abortion clinics. Current law sets that requirement at 60 abortions before those licensing standards kick in.
Unlike in other states, abortion regulations don't divide Republicans and Democrats in the Louisiana Legislature. Many Democrats sided with Republicans in the House to pass the bill.