The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently released a concurring opinion that revealed information about potentially illegal conduct at abortion facilities in Louisiana.
Hope Medical Group for Women, the Shreveport abortion facility at the center of the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case, June Medical Services v. Gee, continues its fight to hide this information from the public, law enforcement, and the U.S. Supreme Court, according to pro-life advocates in the state.
June Medical Services v. Gee concerns Act 620, a law that requires physicians who provide abortions to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. Under this law, only a single physician could provide abortion care in the state, and all but one abortion clinic in Louisiana would close.
In the Nov. 25 decision, the Fifth Circuit issued a procedural ruling regarding Louisiana’s petition for the unsealing of court documents in a separate case brought by the same Shreveport abortion clinic. Louisiana argued that the district court had issued an overly broad protective order that possibly hides criminal conduct from the public and prevents the state from making criminal referrals and from bringing the information to the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court in the related case that will be argued March 4, 2020.
The Fifth Circuit denied the mandamus petition on technical grounds but indicated that Louisiana may file an appeal to unseal the documents through an expedited review.
Notably, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod issued a concurring opinion hammering the district court’s protective order. Judge Elrod’s concurrence reveals a sealed deposition in which one abortionist, Dr. Doe 2, claims that another Louisiana abortionist, Dr. Doe 5, is inducing labor on women during the second trimester in order to perform an abortion. Elrod writes that Doe 2 stated that this type of procedure in the second trimester is outside the standard of care and a live birth is “certainly a possibility.”
In addition, the concurrence indicates that the sealed documents contain evidence of unreported statutory rape, unauthorized abortion on a minor, and improper destruction of patient records.
Meanwhile, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and a dozen other prominent civil rights organizations filed an amicus brief on Dec. 2 urging the court to strike down the state’s anti-abortion law.
The Center for Inquiry also filed an amicus brief written by attorneys from the law firm of Hogan Lovells US LLP, on behalf of Ibis Reproductive Health, an organization dedicated to the promotion of sexual and reproductive autonomy, choices, and health worldwide. Also joining the brief along with CFI is a coalition of organizations committed to supporting and improving women’s and reproductive health care.
Studies on the effects of Act 620 have shown that if upheld, 90 percent of women of reproductive age in Louisiana will live more than 50 miles away from an abortion clinic, and 53 percent will live more than 150 miles away.