Long fight over New Orleans abortion clinic back in US court

Planned Parenthood is asking a federal appeals court to reconsider the question of whether the state of Louisiana must grant a long-sought license for an abortion clinic in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS -- Planned Parenthood is asking a federal appeals court to reconsider the question of whether the state of Louisiana must grant a long-sought license for an abortion clinic in New Orleans.

Planned Parenthood began the process to get a license to perform abortions at the New Orleans facility during Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration. The efforts continued after Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards succeeded Jindal in 2016. Both men oppose abortion rights.

A 5th Circuit panel also refused to dismiss. But, while keeping the lawsuit alive and sending it back to the district court, the three 5th Circuit judges also ruled that federal courts can’t order the state to license the facility. The right to the license is a matter of state law and “there is no free-standing federal right to receive an abortion-clinic license," Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod wrote on behalf of the panel.

Last week, Planned Parenthood filed a petition asking the full 5th Circuit, with 17 active members, to consider the issue. It was not clear when the court will act on that request.

“There is a federal right to access abortion ... and when that right is violated, plaintiffs are entitled to injunctive relief, even if what they seek is a license to operate,” attorneys for the Planned Parenthood entities and the three women said in the application.

Planned Parenthood offers a wide array of primary care services in Louisiana, including screening for cervical cancer, breast cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. Planned Parenthood facilities do not perform abortions in Louisiana. Were the New Orleans facility to eventually get the license it seeks, it would be the first Planned Parenthood Facility in Louisiana to offer abortions.