Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

US Supreme Court Blocks Restrictive Louisiana Abortion Law

US Supreme Court Blocks Restrictive Louisiana Abortion Law

Thursday night, conservative Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, joined the four liberals on the court to block a Louisiana anti-abortion law that the four other conservatives on the court asserted should be allowed to go through.

The Louisiana law would have required physicians at abortion clinics to obtain medically unnecessary so-called admitting privileges to hospitals within 30 miles.

The majority of five justices included Chief Justice John Roberts, who leans conservative but has become the closest thing to a swing vote in controversial cases since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who frequently broke ties on the divided court.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights hailed the decision, telling The Washington Post, "The Supreme Court has stepped in under the wire to protect the rights of Louisiana women".

The Supreme Court recognized a woman's constitutional right to an abortion and legalized the procedure nationwide in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

"The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit maintained that the burdens imposed by Louisiana's admitting privileges requirement are less severe than the burdens imposed by the same requirement in Texas", writes Litman.

The State represents, moreover, that Louisiana will not "move aggressively to enforce the challenged law" during the transition period, Objection to Emergency Application for Stay 2, and further represents that abortion providers will not "immediately be forced to cease operations", id., at 25.

A federal trial judge found the law unconstitutional in view of the Supreme Court's ruling in the Texas case.

And that, says Litman, is the ideal cover for conservative judges to use for the next novel anti-abortion regulation that comes along. If the Court decides not to take up the case, the measure would go into full effect.

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Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life SBA List, said it was a letdown to see Roberts side with the the pro-abortion left on the court. Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joined proven conservatives Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito in indicating they would have rejected the stay and let the law take effect. "Justice Kavanaugh's logic would greatly reduce the scope of that precedent".

If abortionists cannot, obtain admitting privileges, Kavanaugh continued, "even the State acknowledges that the law as applied might be deemed to impose an undue burden for purposes of Whole Woman's Health", and the abortionists could then bring a new case.

The court, of course, could accept the Louisiana case for review next term, reopening the abortion debate, and perhaps even entertaining the possibility of reversing Roe. Critics say there is no medical reason for the act and that it unlawfully restricts women's access to abortion.

So on issues like that one, Roberts will tread carefully, trying to accomplish conservative goals while protecting the Republican Party from the consequences of its worst instincts.

This dissenting opinion written by Brett Kavanaugh could not be clearer as to his motivations.

"The true issue in determining undue burden shouldn't be whether the four doctors who now perform abortions can keep on doing so", writes Feldman.

In an order issued Thursday (Feb. 7), the high court blocked enforcement of a Louisiana law to require that an abortion doctor have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. If they could not, they could come back before the court, he said.

The law is very similar to a Texas measure, Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt, that the justices struck down three years ago, arguing that there was no evidence that the requirement for hospital admitting privileges helped protect the health of pregnant women.

The high court has now agreed to grant that pause in the litigation, but it could still refuse to hear the case and leave the lower court decision in place.

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