I'm not in Baton Rouge this morning for the hearing on the new "emergency" regulations of abortion-providing facilities in Louisiana. That's because the hearing's been cancelled.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration announced Monday night it was scrapping rewritten licensing regulations for abortion clinics that abortion rights supporters had said would force all five of the state's clinics to shut down.
Sighs of relief are not recommended, however, as the story continues:
The Department of Health and Hospitals said it would rewrite the regulations on a later, unspecified date.Ms. Watkins' statement suggests that someone pointed out to DHH that issuing the rules under "emergency" status was a violation of the state's Administrative Procedures Act, as gchaucer2 pointed out last week. And, as reported elsewhere, the requirement of a blood test 30 days before an abortion is performed has been dropped. (I imagine there's at least one lawyer in Jindal's administration smart enough to see that one would get tossed out of court so fast you'd feel the breeze).
"We withdrew the rules and the emergency rule in order to correct the language governing the licensure of outpatient abortion facilities before proceeding," DHH spokeswoman Olivia Watkins said in an emailed statement Monday night. "We intend to issue a new set of proposed rules with a notice of intent in the future for public comment."
However, it appears DHH is determined to push ahead with new regulations, promising to "rework" and "tweak" the square footage mandates that would have empowered DHH to close every clinic in the state immediately, No mention was made of the regulations' increased staffing rates, or of the move to make DHH itself the sole authority to appeal decisions on clinics, essentially putting the cops on the judge's bench.
These items will be "tweaked." On a later, unspecified date.
And, if recent history is any guide, in secret. And released as quietly as possible, around a holiday when people are distracted (Mardi Gras' coming, Bobby). And only scheduling a single hearing after activists discover the new regs are already written and ready to go and cause a ruckus on the Internet (thanks, y'all!).
Recent history, Gov. Jindal, will be our guide.
Be seeing you.