Supreme Court was right to throw out Louisiana's abortion law

Ruben Fields
June 30, 2020

Pro-life leaders expressed deep disappointment with the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal Monday (June 29) to uphold a Louisiana law created to protect the lives and health of women by requiring hospital admitting privileges for doctors who perform abortions.

In a key victory for abortion rights activists, the justices voted 5-4 to overrule a state law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The Louisiana law "would drastically reduce the number and geographic distribution of abortion providers, making it impossible for many women to obtain a safe, legal abortion in the state", the ruling said. The Supreme Court first ruled that a woman had a constitutional right to have an abortion in the 1973 case Roe v. Wade.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down the Louisiana requirement came four years after the court, in a 5-3 decision written by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, struck down the same restriction in Texas. The result in this case is controlled by our decision four years ago invalidating a almost identical Texas law. "And the law must consequently reach a similar conclusion", Breyer wrote.

Louisiana's law required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

He said his decision to join with the progressives in the case, June Medical Services v Russo, was strictly on institutional grounds, and not because he believed the Louisiana law was unconstitutional. But Professor Melissa Murray, an expert in reproductive rights law, says he has not become a liberal, but rather he has followed the logic of earlier legal cases. "But, nonetheless, [he] ruled against the law yesterday and as Justice Thomas pointed out this case shouldn't even be in court".

An anti-abortion activist reads to others the US Supreme Court's decision on a Louisiana law restricting abortion in Washington DC

But Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., while not agreeing with its reasoning, cast his lot with the court's liberals after concluding that respect for precedent compelled him to side with them.

"The Louisiana law was directed toward the simple goal of protecting women from danger by placing the most minimal restrictions possible on an abortion industry that insists on laissez-faire for itself and its profits", said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). "The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law".

"But we're concerned about tomorrow", she said.

A centrepiece of Trump's promises to his supporters was to turn the court rightward with the appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the bench.

Missouri has some of the strictest abortion laws in the country.

Sachs blocked the law a day after it was supposed to take effect.

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