Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana Abortion Restrictions

Press Releases / June 29, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On Monday, June 29th, the Supreme Court struck down a restrictive Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals that would have resulted in the shuttering of all but one abortion clinic in the entire state.  In joining the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “The result in this case is controlled by our decision four years ago invalidating a nearly identical Texas law.”

“Today’s decision will save women’s lives,” said Sonia Ossorio, President of the National Organization for Women – New York.  “This case was a blatant attempt to drive women’s health clinics out of business and deny women full reproductive health care.”

Admitting privileges depend on several factors having nothing to do with a doctor’s experience, including the number of patients they send to a hospital. Abortions are extremely safe and very few women or people accessing abortions need to be admitted to a hospital, making it difficult for an abortion provider to obtain admitting privileges. When considering the Hope Clinic at the center of this case, only four patients had to be transferred to a hospital because of a complication in over 23 years.

There are just three abortion clinics in Louisiana, and patients have to drive for hours to reach them. Also, some people simply obtain pills to take in their own homes. If there are complications, they will most likely seek treatment at a hospital near their home, not near the clinic where they received care.

“Upholding a law that would have left just one doctor to perform abortions in the entire state of Louisiana would have been to ignore medical necessity, legal precedent, and the public will,” Ossorio said. “It is a major moment that this newly constituted Supreme Court followed the precedent it set less than five years ago and blocked what would have been the decimation of abortion care in the state of Louisiana and across the country.”

Ossorio added, “Seventy-seven percent of Americans want Roe v. Wade protected.”

In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt, the Supreme Court struck down an almost identical law in Texas in 2016, ruling that it served no medical benefit and placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions. In  June Medical Services v. Russo the court considered the question of whether their previous declaration that the Texas requirement is unconstitutional, applied to all admitting privileges requirements, or was restricted to just that law in Texas. Signaling just how burdensome these types of admitting privileges requirements are, major U.S. medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, filed briefs opposing the requirement.

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