Louisiana abortion clinic ends suit against licensing rules

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Shreveport abortion clinic and two doctors that perform abortions have dropped their lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s clinic-licensing regulations, after a federal appeals court questioned the legal approach.

The dismissal paperwork was filed in Baton Rouge federal court on Wednesday with little attention, until abortion opponents hailed the ending of the lawsuit in statements Friday.

The decision by Hope Medical Group For Women and the two doctors listed as John Does to drop the lawsuit came after an October ruling from a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit of Appeals. The judges said abortion-rights advocates lack standing to pursue many of their claims and a lower court judge erred in allowing the entire case to proceed.

The clinic and doctors argued that Louisiana’s entire regulatory and licensing structure for abortion clinics creates medically unjustified barriers to a legal medical procedure.

But the appeals panel said the lawsuit would have to disentangle each allegation to determine legal standing.

Attorney General Jeff Landry praised the ending of the lawsuit in a statement, calling it a “victory for Louisiana women.” Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, also issued a statement applauding the dismissal and saying the lawsuit was “aimed at dismantling nearly every one of Louisiana’s health and safety requirements related to abortion.”

Jenny Ma, a lawyer at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the abortion-rights organization continues to challenge several of the state’s clinic regulations in a separate lawsuit.

“We will remain diligent in fighting the many medically unnecessary abortion restrictions in Louisiana — the state with the most anti-abortion laws in the country,” Ma said in a statement.