Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana Abortion Restrictions

From The New York Times:

The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. voting with the court’s four-member liberal wing but not adopting its reasoning. The chief justice said respect for precedent compelled him to vote with the majority.

The case was the court’s first on abortion since President Trump’s appointments of two justices shifted the court to the right.

The Louisiana law, which was enacted in 2014, requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

The law’s supporters said the law protects the health and safety of women seeking abortions, and that the requirements for obtaining admitting privileges helps ensure the competence of doctors. Opponents disputed that, saying that hospitalizations after abortions are rare, that women would receive medical care at hospitals 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.

Only two of the five doctors who provide abortions in Louisiana have obtained admitting privileges, one in New Orleans and one in Shreveport. But the Shreveport doctor testified that he could not handle the clinic’s work alone. If the law went into effect, a trial judge concluded, there would be a single doctor in a single clinic, in New Orleans, available to provide abortions in Louisiana.

The judge, John W. deGravelles of the Federal District Court in Baton Rouge, struck down the Louisiana law in 2017, saying it created an undue burden on women’s constitutional right to abortion. The experience of the clinic in Shreveport, Hope Medical Group for Women, showed, he wrote, that the law was a solution in search of a problem.

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