The move to temporarily halt an abortion law in Louisiana gives the justices time to review the case.
The controversial 2014 law requires doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, which has infuriated liberal abortion supporters and groups.
“The Center for Reproductive Rights petitioned the Supreme Court to halt the law last week after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law,” which protects women from possible complications associated with abortions.
The group claimed that the law was “identical” to a “Texas law the Court struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016 and would severely reduce abortion access for women in the state.”
“Enforcement of Louisiana’s admitting privileges law will have disastrous consequences for women in the state,” they claimed.
“The district court determined that Louisiana’s admitting privileges requirement would leave only one physician providing abortions in the entire state and that all-but-one clinic that provides abortion care would be forced to close.”
In their ruling that upheld the state passed law, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals examined the practical impact on abortion providers and concluded that “no clinics will likely be forced to close on account of the Act.”
“If the Act were to go into effect today, both Women’s and Hope could remain open, though each would have only one qualified doctor,” they wrote about the state’s clinics.
“Delta would be the only clinic required to close, as its only Doctor, Doe 5, does not have admitting privileges within 30 miles. Because obtaining privileges is not overly burdensome, however, the fact that one clinic would have to close is not a substantial burden that can currently be attributed to Act 620 as distinguished from Doe 5’s failure to put forth a good-faith effort.”
Although Justice Alito could act on the request himself, experts agree he’s more likely to refer it to the full court.
The case will be the first time the abortion issue will appear before Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, if the court agrees to hear it.
“The similar Texas law in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was struck down by a 5-3 vote in which Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has since retired, joined with the liberal justices in voting to strike down the law. Only eight justices ruled on the case as the decision took place after the death of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas recently accused his colleagues of avoiding the abortion issue and this case could provide some clarity into how the newly-appointed Justices will rule on such matters.”
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry argued in a recent statement that abortion clinics are misrepresenting the impact of the law.
“As the Fifth Circuit explained, one plaintiff physician unilaterally refused to submit documentation necessary for him to obtain admitting privileges,” he wrote. “Another physician at the same clinic threatened to cease performing abortions if Act 620 goes into effect, albeit with shifting justification, and despite his already having admitting privileges that comply with Act 620. Plaintiffs refuse to grapple with those facts, and instead engage in ad hominem attacks on highly respected Fifth Circuit judges.”
This argument is shaping up to be a real test of the Supreme Court, and how it will view the rights of the unborn in future cases.