AG’s COVID-19 Application Task Force targets Shreveport abortion clinic
BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL / KMSS) – The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office has activated a task force to help ensure medically approved facilities are complying with statewide emergency guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic, including abortion clinics in Shreveport and Baton Rouge.
Emergency orders issued on March 21 by the Louisiana Department of Health has suspended all elective and elective medical procedures and surgeries until further notice.
The activation of the working group comes two weeks after Landry’s office alleged that the Shreveport abortion clinic was operating in violation of the order and asked LDH acting secretary Stephen Russo to implement it and shut down the clinic.
“The LDH and Acting Secretary Russo have asked for our help in enforcing their important public health orders, such as those requiring the stay of elective and non-emergency medical procedures,” Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement. statement announcing the working group Thursday.
Landry said the task force was activated “in response to LDH referrals of possible violations, conducting investigative reviews of several Louisiana facilities,” including an endoscopy center in Shreveport, as well as clinics in outpatient abortions in Shreveport and Baton Rouge.
“Any failure to follow these important guidelines not only puts patients and staff at risk, but they also hijack much-needed personal protective equipment from the courageous healthcare professionals who are currently treating Louisiana coronavirus patients.” , Landry added. “My COVID-19 task force is ready to act and is currently receiving referrals from LDH on possible violations. We are happy to do our part to protect the health and safety of all Louisianans by freeing up LDH’s essential resources and employees who are essential on the front lines of this fight.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy organization representing the Shreveport clinic, said the services provided by Hope Medical Group were essential.
“Abortion is an essential and urgent health care that must remain available during this pandemic, especially because every pregnancy is unique and can pose significant health risks. Hope Medical Group sees patients and complies with all LDH guidelines and CDC recommendations, ”said Kelly Krause.
The LDH Ordinance includes exceptions for medical procedures to treat “an emergency medical condition … so that the lack of immediate medical attention could reasonably result in: (a) The individual’s condition being made to health. or, in the case of a pregnant woman, the health of the woman or of her unborn child) seriously endangered … “
Asked during his daily briefing Thursday whether abortions are considered an elective procedure, Gov. John Bel Edwards said it would depend on the conditions under which one was performed. He said the task force, which includes the state board of medical examiners, as well as the Louisiana Department of Health and the attorney general’s office, were working to make those decisions.
“We are trying to verify now if any of these clinics are violating orders that have been issued by the Louisiana Department of Health to stop elective medical procedures in an attempt to conserve PPE that could be used in the fight. against COVID. “
Shreveport Police have investigated complaints that the clinic was violating the governor’s stay-at-home orders and say they have found no violation of guidelines requiring gatherings to be reduced to ten people or less and allowing a distance of six feet.
The Hope Medical Group for Women is one of three in the state offering abortions to women, and it is challenging a state law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges. neighbour. Russo and former Secretary of the State Department of Health and Hospitals, Dr. Rebekah Gee, are named as defendants in the lawsuit. The Supreme Court heard the case on March 4. Opinions are generally delivered during the months of May and June. It is not yet clear whether an opinion in the case can still be expected during this time due to the coronavirus pandemic.