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Louisiana appeals court hears arguments on "admitting privileges" abortion law

A federal appeals court will hear arguments Wednesday on a Louisiana law requiring that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

A federal district judge in Baton Rouge blocked enforcement of the law last year. Wednesday's arguments take place before a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar Texas law.

Supporters said doctors need to be able to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles in case of medical complications arising from abortions. Opponents said the law was meant to make it essentially impossible for women to obtain abortions.

In briefs, the state says the district judge exaggerated the burdens the law would place on Louisiana women seeking an abortion and understated the health benefits of the law.

Opponents of the law said there is no proof it would result in safer abortions but it would lead to longer waiting times, increased travel and expense for patients, and overcrowded clinics. The law's opponents say it likely would result in one doctor at one clinic providing abortion care, a contention the state disputes.

Former Gov. Bobby Jindal signed the law in 2014. The defense of the law continues under Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who has emphasized his opposition to abortion.

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