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Oklahoma enacts new abortion restrictions

NEW ORLEANS — Oklahoma, soon to be followed by Louisiana, has joined other socially conservative states in adopting laws that place new restrictions on abortions, measures that critics say are aimed at shutting abortion clinics.

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Legislation in the two states require physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at an adequately equipped hospital within 30 miles of the place where the abortion is performed. Supporters say the measures are aimed at protecting women’s health.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, signed into law the new restrictions on Wednesday and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, will sign a similar bill this week, representatives for the two said on Wednesday.

Abortion rights groups maintain the privileges provision is unnecessary because abortion complications are rare and tend to be similar to those of a miscarriage, which often are treated by emergency room physicians.

Admitting privileges generally allow a doctor who is approved by a hospital to admit a patient for treatment at the hospital.

Melissa Flournoy, Louisiana director for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, has predicted that at least three of the state’s five clinics could close once the abortion bill becomes law.

The laws have taken effect in five states — Kansas, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah — but have been blocked in Alabama, Mississippi and Wisconsin pending the outcome of court challenges.

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