The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said Monday night that it plans to rescind a proposal to instate a 30-day waiting period for women seeking abortions, following media reports that the waiting period and other proposed regulations could shut down all five abortion clinics in the state.
DHH is considering an "emergency" set of rules for abortion clinics, which currently includes new building standards and an unprecedented requirement that a woman take certain blood tests at least 30 days before she can have an abortion. This last requirement would force women seeking abortions to have the procedure later into their pregnancies, making it riskier and more costly, and could make it impossible for some women to obtain a legal abortion before Louisiana's 20-week gestational limit.
Moreover, the blood tests indicated by the new rules, which check a patient's hematocrit and hemoglobin levels before a surgery, are normally performed the day of an abortion procedure because they need to be as current as possible, women's health care providers said.
"A 30-day-old hematocrit [test] is no good," Kathaleen Pittman, an administrator at Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, La., told HuffPost in an interview. "It makes no sense."
Pittman said she is confident that no doctors or medical experts were present when the new abortion rules were drafted. "I cannot figure out who would come up with that little jewel," she said. "No hospital is going to accept a hematocrit that's 30 days old."
The rules were supposed to go into effect in November, but RH Reality Check, a publication that covers sexual and reproductive health news, reported that enforcement has not yet begun.
A spokesperson for the state health department said Monday that she had received a lot of phone calls asking about the new abortion rules. She said DHH "will be rescinding the language regarding the 30-day period for blood tests" and will also clarify language in the proposed rules that would have forced existing abortion clinics to undergo extensive renovations. There will be a public hearing in February regarding the rule changes.
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