Monday, 16 February 2015

Gov. Jindal, local Bishop, Halt Construction of Abortion Clinic in New Orleans

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Catholic archbishop of New Orleans have managed to halt construction of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in New Orleans, the Washington Post reported. A sign at the construction site, where the clinic was scheduled to open early this year, promised “High-Quality, Affordable Health Care for New Orleans.” But Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond wrote a public letter last year saying contractors who worked on the project would be shut out from all of the church’s numerous projects, leading several subcontractors to back away from the job. An inspector for the State Licensing Board for Contractors also began making what one major contractor told the Post were unprecedented weekly visits to the site.

Last month the state denied Planned Parenthood an operating license, stating that the group failed to show the need for the clinic. Work has stopped at the site at a busy thoroughfare west of downtown while Planned Parenthood appeals the decision. It is the first time the state has tried to keep an abortion clinic from opening, according to Ellie Schilling, a New Orleans attorney representing the Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom. Schilling said the Jindal administration also revoked licenses for two abortion clinics over what she described as minor violations, though one of the decisions was reversed.

Last year the state legislature overwhelmingly approved a law requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. The measure is similar to the controversial bill passed in Texas the previous year. Jindal signed it into law at a Baptist Church in West Monroe. It has not yet gone into effect, however, as a legal challenge to the law is before a federal court in Baton Rouge. The trial is scheduled for March 30.

The statute provides “commonsense safety regulations to protect the lives and safety of pregnant women,” Jindal said.

“It’s a women’s health issue,” said state Rep. Katrina Jackson, an African American Democrat from Monroe. “More African American babies are killed by abortion every year than from an unfortunate disease or any senseless criminal act.”

Jindal, a former Hindu who converted to Catholicism, is portrayed by detractors as making a play for the support of the “religious right” and other social conservatives in his anticipated 2016 presidential bid.  But his opposition to abortion has been consistent since he became governor in 2008 and during his time in the U.S. Congress prior to that. He had a 100 percent pro-life voting record during his three years in the House of Representatives, according to National Right to Life, a leading pro-life organization.

“It matters how we treat the unborn and the elderly,” the Louisiana governor said in a statement released earlier this year. “Every life is sacred and we should have the courage to defend it.” That is harmonious music to the ears of Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life. “He’s not just been pro-life behind closed doors,” Clapper told the Post. “He’s also been proudly pro-life across our state.”

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