Abortion rates higher in countries with stricter anti-abortion laws
Opponents of the bill fear it will shut down abortion facilities across the stateReuters

Louisiana could be next to join the growing number of states approving anti-abortion measures in the US, in a three-year increase that has changed the landscape for termination access for unwanted pregnancies.

The Louisiana House will soon take up the proposed bill after it was passed by a House committee, sparking fears restrictions the legislation enforces will shut down abortion facilities across the state.

The bill, which requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles of the place where the abortions take place, was authored by Rep. Katrina Jackson of Monroe.

Jackson commented: "I think it's very important that we protect the lives of the mothers and at least they're in a safe place if they chose the traumatic experience of having an abortion."

There has been a rapid increase in state abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013, as over half of the states have tightened laws. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit reproductive health research organisation, more than 200 abortion restriction laws were passed and signed into law.

In comparison, 189 such laws were enacted between 2001 and 2010.

Amy Irvin, a board member of the New Orleans Abortion Fund, criticised the Louisiana bill, stating it will not make abortion safer. She said: "The real intent of this bill is create higher barriers to abortion care and close clinics."

She added that a similar law in Texas forced a third of the state's clinics to close because the doctors did not have admitting privileges to local hospitals. In Louisiana, she believes three out of five states would be put out of business, leaving two remaining providers in Shreveport and Bossier City.

Irvin points out that affluent women may be able to travel the additional 500 miles from New Orleans to these areas, but this was not an option for poorer women.

But supporters of the bill have criticised pro-choice advocates for fear-mongering.

Ben Clapper, director of Louisiana Right to Life, told Fox8Live: "The perception that somehow these doctors have no ability to get admitting privileges at these hospitals is not correct. They still have time. They still can petition to get admitting privileges."

He added that the bill ensures that clinics have a high standard of care and that a woman can be admitted to hospital in an emergency.

The bill has been passed by the House Health and Welfare Committee, but will be voted on by the full house next week.