Late Monday night, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal announced that his administration was scrapping recent proposed regulations aimed at making it more difficult to access abortion services in the state.
Activists across Louisiana and from surrounding states descended upon Baton Rouge yesterday for a scheduled public hearing on these restrictions, which included the tripling of square footage requirements of clinics, increasing staffing requirements and eliminating appeal rights for clinics found in violation of certain regulations.
These regulations were actually written last November, but the administration somehow managed to keep them under wraps until the day before a public hearing originally scheduled for last week. (Irony of ironies: an anti-choice protester is actually the one who brought it to the attention of a clinic worker in an attempt at taunting!)
Louisiana tried to pass their "emergency" abortion legislation unhindered, under wraps and out of the public eye -- but many of the same activists that caused problems for the Texas Legislature back in June traveled to Louisiana for the hearing -- and Louisiana, fearing the same embarrassment and negative national news Texas achieved with their shenanigans, backed down.
Monday, February 03, 2014 8 p.m. PST
Update to Planned February 4 Public Meeting Agenda:
The Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) is rescinding its November 2013 emergency rule for outpatient abortion facilities licensing standards. The notice of intent to finalize the rule scheduled for a public hearing tomorrow, Feb. 4, has been removed from the hearing’s agenda. The Department will reissue a revised rule and notice of intent at a later date. Once a new notice of intent has been filed, a new public hearing will be scheduled to receive public comments.
Remember what happened to Texas lawmakers when their constituents shouted them down in the House of Representatives, calling them out on their attempt to strip Texas women of their constitutional right to safe, legal abortion services? (Fast forward to 2:57 in for the moment it all went absolutely bonkers.) Eight months later, it's still electrifying.
Yeah, Louisiana abruptly decided they didn’t want any part of that kind of headache. But now all eyes are upon them. And activists are watching, planning, and plotting.
The New Orleans Abortion Fund collected over 5,000 written comments and testimonies against the proposed Louisiana regulations in the past week, which they intended to present and read at the hearing. This would have kept Louisiana officials up and occupied until the wee hours of Wednesday morning, at the very least. The specter of intense public scrutiny forced the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to back down once activists called their bluff.
This is a huge victory for women in Louisiana and across the country. It’s proof that pressure and noise can equal change and movement, and that governments across the nation are smart to fear us and hear us.If you live in Louisiana, there will be a rally held today at the site where the hearing was originally scheduled.
Of course this is all occurring on the heels of the TOTALLY OBVIOUS news that abortion rates decline when access to birth control is easy. You don't say.
The situation in Louisiana proves that we are being heard. That we can win this battle. That the tide is turning. So get loud. Make noise. And get involved. It's working. The fight for reproductive rights is already inspiring more women to run for office.
Lawmakers of America: GAME ON.
I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison.