Yesterday, the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law restricting abortion by a five-to-four vote, with Chief Justice Roberts siding with the four-judge liberal wing.
The Louisiana law, enacted in 2014, requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Its supporters said the law protects the health and safety of women seeking abortions and that requirements for obtaining admitting privileges help ensure the competence of doctors.
Opponents claimed that hospitalizations after abortions are rare, that women would receive medical care at a hospital whether their doctors had admitting privileges or not, and that abortion providers are often unable to obtain admitting privileges for reasons unrelated to their competence.
Arguments for and against the ruling
The Federal District Court in Baton Rouge struck down the Louisiana law in 2017. Its judge, John W. deGravelles, said it created an undue burden on women’s constitutional right to abortion. He stated that “in the last twenty-three years, Hope Clinic [an abortion clinic in Shreveport], which serves in excess of 3,000 patients per year, had only four patients who required transfer to a hospital for treatment. In each instance, regardless of whether the physician had admitting privileges, the patient received appropriate care.”
He added that only one of six doctors who perform abortions in Louisiana had admitting privileges when the law passed; the remaining five faced obstacles to obtaining them for reasons unrelated to their competence. He found that implementing the law would force two of the state’s three abortion clinics to close.
The judge also stated that the law was essentially identical to Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a Texas law that the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. Chief Justice Roberts agreed, voting with the liberal wing of…
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