New lawsuit follows sweeping policy push to expand access to reproductive health care state by state.
BATON ROUGE — Today, Planned Parenthood filed suit in federal district court to fight for women’s access to safe, legal abortion in Louisiana. In its complaint, Planned Parenthood challenges the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) for unconstitutionally restricting abortion access for women in New Orleans. Planned Parenthood seeks a preliminary injunction to stop the department from blocking its abortion license application, which has been pending for nearly 17 months.
For the last several years, politicians in Louisiana have pushed policy after policy designed to block access to abortion and care at Planned Parenthood. Since 2011 alone, the state has passed 20 restrictions on safe, legal abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. (See full timeline and case background here.) This only exacerbates an already dire health care landscape where nearly a million women of reproductive age rely on just three remaining health centers that provide abortion in the entire state.
This follows Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s announcement last week of a sweeping plan to advance positive policies to expand access to reproductive health care at the state level.
Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
Enough is enough. We are going on the offense in Louisiana. We will not allow politicians to continue imposing their personal beliefs on everyone. We have to keep fighting state by state and law by law to make sure everyone gets the health care they want or need, without politicians controlling when, how, and why.
Statement from Melaney A. Linton, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast & Planned Parenthood Center for Choice:
Politicians in Louisiana will stop at nothing to strip away a woman’s right to control her own body, her life, and her future. Today, we’re taking our fight to court on behalf of our patients and their right to access safe, legal abortion.
Louisiana ranks among the worst states in the country for abortion access and is the third poorest state in the nation. In the New Orleans area alone, more than 20 percent of women of reproductive age (about 80,000 women) live at or below the federal poverty line. Many of them are unable to access safe, legal abortion because of financial barriers like the cost of the procedure, loss of income from time off work, and costs for child care or travel. (A trip they must make twice under state law.) Due to racism and other structural barriers that have contributed to wealth and income inequality, Black women and Latinas in Louisiana are disproportionately likely to be poor or have low-incomes. They are disproportionately impacted by these barriers to abortion, and their financial restrictions can compound with factors like being a single mother or the sole breadwinner — adding to the burdens of navigating a broken health care landscape.
Roadblocks like those erected by Louisiana politicians can make it impossible for patients to access health care, including safe, legal abortion, or can delay them in accessing this care. Planned Parenthood is committed to bridging these financial assistance gaps and helping patients access the critical care they need and that they may have otherwise been unable to obtain.
Planned Parenthood is represented in this litigation by Amy Van Zant and Mark P. Wine from the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; Carrie Y. Flaxman and Jennifer Keighley from Planned Parenthood Federation of America; and Louisiana firm Delaney, Robb & Rubin.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.