Wednesday, 27 January, 2021

Supreme Court strikes down abortion clinic law in Louisiana

Terrisa Bukovinac founder of Pro Life San Francisco holds a model of a fetus as she and other anti-abortion protesters wait outside the Supreme Court for a decision Monday Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana abortion law
Cary Erickson | 29 June, 2020, 19:05

The Supreme Court struck down abortion restrictions in Louisiana on Monday, a sign that even if the court's newly expanded conservative majority wants to chip away at abortion rights, it will likely do so incrementally.

Whole Woman's Health, which was decided the Supreme Court in 2016, struck down an nearly identical abortion restriction law in Texas by a 5-3 vote, reasoning that it offered minimal medical benefit and imposed an undue burden on access to abortion.

Why it matters: The court's 5-4ruling largely leaves the status quo of abortion law unchanged, affirms the court's precedents and leaves big decisions about the future of abortion access for another day. For that reason, I concur in the judgment of the Court that the Louisiana law is unconstitutional.

While the state said the requirement was to protect women's health, pro-choice advocates said that it's incredibly rare for women to face complications from an abortion.

"There is no reason to think that a law requiring admitting privileges will necessarily have the same effect in every state", he said, though the Court's plurality this time found that the Louisiana law did, like the Texas one, represent an obstacle to women seeking abortions.

The law includes a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have a difficult-to-obtain arrangement called "admitting privileges" at a hospital within 48km (30 miles) of the abortion clinic.

"I joined the dissent in Whole Woman's Health and continue to believe that the case was wrongly decided".

Anti-abortion protesters wait outside the Supreme Court for a decision Monday
US Supreme Court rules to uphold abortion rights

The case garnered significant national attention and involvement with the Trump administration and various pro-life organizations filing numerous amicus briefs backing Louisiana.

Justice Samuel Alito argued that Roberts was wrong in his application of stare decisis because the Louisiana and Texas laws are actually different.

"The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike. Therefore, Louisiana's law can not stand under our precedents", Roberts added.

In another important victory for those supporting abortion rights, the Court confirmed that health care providers can sue to challenge state laws in court on behalf of their patients. Both ruled in favor of the Louisiana abortion restrictions. "Today a majority of the Court perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction", Thomas wrote. As is often the case with legal challenges to abortion regulations, this suit was brought by abortionists and abortion clinics. And the idea that a regulated party can invoke the right of a third party for the goal of attacking legislation enacted to protect the third party is stunning. "Louisiana abortion providers have an alarming and risky record of substandard healthcare-including botched abortions and failure to satisfy basic sanitary requirements".

This is the first major abortion case ruling from the Supreme Court during the Trump presidency. "Unfortunately, this ruling will allow the abortion industry to continue to put profits before patients". That would make it too hard for women to get an abortion, in violation of the Constitution, the judge ruled. That would have more than tripled the average distance women in the region would have to travel to access abortion services, and would disproportionately impact low-income women of color, according to research in the journal Contraception. "Things like rusty equipment, the use of expired medications, tears in surgery and exam tables, holes in floors where rodents can slip inside are all fairly common citations, which would shut down most restaurants and medical facilities -unless they were abortion clinics".

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, said, "Today's ruling is a bitter disappointment".

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