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La. DHH reverses on controversial abortion changes - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

La. DHH reverses on controversial abortion changes

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is backing off controversial changes to abortion regulations just one day before a public hearing on the subject.

The department issued an emergency declaration in November that would have required women to wait 30 days between a blood test and their abortion procedures even though medical experts say such out-of-date blood tests would be more harmful than helpful.

The regulations would have more than doubled the required size of procedure rooms, enacted new licensing procedures and affected staffing.

Abortion providers say they weren't consulted on the new rules or even told about them until the regulations were in place.

"Nowhere is there any specific reason given by DHH how these rules will [help women] or even why the rules were needed," Hope Medical Group's Kathaleen Pittman told KTBS 3 News last week. "There is so much wrong and unnecessarily burdensome about the rules it is mind boggling.

Pro-choice advocates say DHH backed off as the result of public opposition.

"Initially, I am relieved, but I don't think that we're out of the danger zone," said Dr. Eileen Velez of NOW Shreveport-Bossier Chapter. "I feel that Baton Rouge will still try other ways to restrict access to women's healthcare. We have to be very vigilant and watchful to see if anything else could do that."

Pro-life advocates had called the changes minor and said they bettered women's health.

"They're constantly in a process of fine-tuning the rules to make sure that we're on the cutting edge of all that: what's allowed by the courts and what's appropriate by medical standards," said Pro-Life Louisiana's Mike Johnson. "That's what this is."

The department had planned a public hearing on the rule changes for tomorrow in Baton Rouge, but the issue has been removed from the agenda. The organization will now re-issue a revised rule and notice of intent at a later date.

There's no word on when DHH will take the issue up again.

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