When pundits look back on the 2016 GOP race, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will hold a special place as a man who not only turned his back on his constituents for political expediency, but also shredded his degree in biology for the same reason.
Planned Parenthood began construction here last year on a clinic that would perform abortions and provide other medical services for women. “High-Quality, Affordable Health Care for New Orleans,” a sign promised. “Seeing Patients Early 2015.”
That sign is now crumpled on the ground behind a chain-link fence at the project’s abandoned construction site, victim of efforts by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and other abortion opponents to block the clinic.
The push against the project began last year, when the Catholic archbishop of New Orleans wrote a public letter threatening to blacklist contractors on the clinic from any of the church’s numerous real estate projects. That led to several subcontractors walking away from the project, delaying work on the facility. An inspector for the State Licensing Board for Contractors also began making weekly visits, which one of the major contractors said was unprecedented.
Then last month Jindal’s administration denied Planned Parenthood an operating license, stating that the group failed to show the need for the clinic. Work has stopped at the site on a busy thoroughfare west of downtown, at least for now, while Planned Parenthood vows to appeal.
There's nothing moderate about Jindal anymore. He knows his road to the nomination in Cleveland in July 2016 goes through Tea Party central, and he's trying to prove he's the guy who can punish his constituents the most.
In 2010, Louisiana had the sixth-highest rate of unintended pregnancies, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Before opening its $4 million clinic, Planned Parenthood had to undergo a “Facility Need Review” under a 2012 rule created by Jindal’s Department of Health and Hospitals. In its 74-page application, Planned Parenthood used statistical analysis to estimate that its entrance into the market would allow another 2,844 women to get abortions per year. In its rejection, the state agency’s top official said Planned Parenthood had failed to establish the need for another abortion facility.
Of the five that exist in Louisiana, one is in New Orleans and another is in the suburban city of Metairie.
“The safety and protection of women is not an issue of economic debate,” the governor’s press secretary, Mike Reed, said in an e-mail.
So yeah, Jindal has gone full Tea Party these days. He had before, but now it's official.