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Louisiana backs off abortion waiting period

State officials were prepared to move on 30-day waiting periods before a woman could terminate a pregnancy. Then there was a public backlash.
Pro-choice demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, January 22, 2014.
Pro-choice demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, January 22, 2014.
As 2013 came to an end, the Guttmacher Institute reported on a striking trend: policymakers at the state level had approved more restrictions on reproductive rights in the last three years than during the previous decade.
We're only a month in 2014, but social conservatives apparently don't intend to change course.
In Louisiana, for example, the state's Department of Health and Hospitals recently moved forward on a policy that would require a 30-day waiting period before a woman could terminate a pregnancy. As Katie McDonough reported, the policy would require women seeking an abortion to have certain blood tests done 30 days before their procedures.
South Dakota and Utah have three-day waiting periods already on the books, but this new regulation would create a delay 10 times as long.
Laura Bassett reports this morning, however, that the state is pulling back in the face of public scrutiny of the policy.

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.

It's not at all clear how or why the policy came together, or whether any medical professionals were consulted before state officials drew up new rules. Regardless, a spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said the agency "will be rescinding the language regarding the 30-day period for blood tests."
That is, for now.
A hearing on the policy had been scheduled for this morning, though with the shift yesterday, the discussion has been moved to next week.
What officials will have to say when DHH hosts its public hearing next Tuesday is not entirely clear, though it's safe to assume there will be a lively discussion.