NEW ORLEANS — The federal judge who heard a challenge to Louisiana’s abortion law said he will rule in the case Tuesday.
The law requires doctors who perform abortions to be able to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles. Supporters say it’s meant to protect women’s health. Opponents say it’s meant to make it essentially impossible for women to get abortions, and will do just that.
U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles issued a brief order Monday, saying he was filing his proposed ruling under seal and giving lawyers 24 hours to review it to make sure everything that is supposed to be confidential remains so.
The Baton Rouge-based judge told lawyers they could tell their clients the gist of one section of the ruling, but should warn them to keep that information secret until the entire ruling becomes official.
Monday’s order said confidentiality orders protect “certain parties, other persons, and a hospital.”
DeGravelles heard testimony in the case in June. Abortion providers sued anonymously, as “John Does,” and testified behind a curtain to protect their identities.
Louisiana does not require doctors doing any other sort of procedures to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, the lawsuit contends. “Physicians perform similar, and often higher risk, outpatient procedures in their offices without admitting privileges,” it says.
The law is among hundreds of abortion restrictions passed around the country in recent years.
The case is one of two high-profile lawsuits before deGravelles and involving clinics for women.
In November, deGravelles stopped Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration from ending Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood clinics in Louisiana while the organization challenged his plans to do so. The clinics in Baton Rouge and New Orleans provide cancer screenings, birth control and other medical services to about 5,200 low-income Louisiana women, but do not perform abortions.
Jindal was a Republican presidential candidate when he said he would cut off the money, citing hidden-camera videos that accuse the national organization of profiting from fetal tissue sales after abortions elsewhere in the nation. Planned Parenthood denies the allegations, saying the videos are heavily edited and misleading. On Monday, a grand jury in Texas indicted the two anti-abortion activists who made the undercover videos and said the abortion provider committed no wrong.
DeGravelles has not yet heard testimony about the Planned Parenthood case, only about his preliminary injunction. It is before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, who was inaugurated this month, has not decided whether to continue that appeal, spokesman Richard Carbo has said.