Implications for women of Louisiana’s law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges
Robert SCM, Fuentes L, Kriz R, Williams V, Upadhyay UD. Implications for women of Louisiana’s law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. Contraception. 2015 May;91(5):368-72
Background: In 2014, Louisiana passed a law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. This law is temporarily on hold while a court case challenging it continues. We aimed to describe the population who would be affected if the law goes into effect and how closures of between three and five Louisiana abortion facilities would affect the distance Louisiana women would need to travel for an abortion.
Study Design: We abstracted patient data from three of the five Louisiana abortion care facilities in the year before the law was scheduled to take effect. We then estimated distance traveled and distances women would need to travel if clinics close.
Findings: Half (53%) of women who had an abortion had no education beyond high school, most were black (62%) or white (30%), three fourths (73%) had a previous live birth, and most (89%) were having a first-trimester abortion. Seventy-nine percent resided in Louisiana and 15% in Texas. The parishes in which abortion patients resided had lower median income and higher percentage poverty than the Louisiana average. Abortion patients residing in Louisiana traveled a mean distance of 58 miles each way for an abortion. If all Louisiana facilities close, the mean distance women would need to travel would more than triple to 208 miles, and the proportion of Louisiana women of reproductive age who live more than 150 miles from an abortion facility would increase from 1% to 72%.
Conclusion:The admitting privileges law will likely significantly increase the distance Louisiana women need to travel for an abortion. This burden is likely to disproportionately affect Louisiana’s more vulnerable residents.
Implications:If all Louisiana abortion facilities close due to Louisiana’s hospital admitting privileges law, the mean distance women would need to travel for an abortion would more than triple from 58 to 208 miles. Louisiana’s law would thus present a considerable burden on many Louisiana women, particularly those who are more vulnerable.