New Orleans abortion provider must pay La. fine
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled state health agencies have authority to fine a New Orleans outpatient abortion clinic for being out of compliance with state rules and regulations.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals fined Midtown Medical LLC about $1,200 in 2010. Midtown Medical sued, arguing DHH didn't have the legal power to impose the penalties.
The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal in December threw out fine. The appellate court determined outpatient abortion providers aren't listed in state statutes as facilities that DHH can sanction.
The Supreme Court disagreed Friday, reinstating state District Judge Wilson Fields' 2012 decision to side with DHH.
"We are pleased with the court's ruling. DHH is committed to ensuring the health and safety of women and their unborn children in Louisiana," DHH spokeswoman Olivia Watkins said in an email to the Advocate (http://bit.ly/1e3RWpW ).
Ellie Schilling, the New Orleans lawyer representing Midtown Medical, said in an email that she was out of town and had not reviewed the court's opinion.
DHH assessed two separate $600 fines against the clinic based on the department's determination that the facility was out of compliance with "federal and/or state rules for abortion clinics" related to its governance and anesthesia services.
Midtown officials denied the allegations and argued DHH had overstepped its authority. Midtown has been fighting to reinstate its license since DHH closed the clinic about 18 months ago.
The Supreme Court said the applicable Louisiana law "covers facilities which function only as outpatient abortion facilities . and those which operate as both outpatient abortion facilities and adult day health care facilities."
"Because the Legislature defined 'facility' in this enabling statute, the absence of 'outpatient abortion facility' in the definition promulgated by DHH ... is of no consequence," the high court wrote.