The Center for Reproductive Rights has filed an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, after the Fifth Circuit upheld the law despite Supreme Court precedent, to prevent an extremely restrictive anti-abortion Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges from going into effect on Feb. 4th; the law would leave only one abortion doctor in the entire state, drastically decreasing access to abortion and reproductive healthcare in Louisiana. The Fifth Circuit denied requests from the Center for Reproductive Rights for a rehearing and requests to stay the law while the case is appealed to the Supreme Court; however, this case gives an opportunity for the conservative-majority Supreme Court to re-shape abortion rights after Justice Kennedy’s retirement.
The Fifth Circuit has chosen to uphold Louisiana’s law, ignoring Supreme Court precedent that admitting privileges are unconstitutional obstacles to prevent abortion care as ruled in Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt. A Mississippi law, similar to the Louisiana law in question was struck down by the Fifth Circuit. However, this ruling on the Louisiana law effectively disregards past Supreme Court precedent and past Fifth Circuit precedent.
Reproductive rights organizations and advocates fear that the Supreme Court, especially without Justice Kennedy that provided the crucial fifth vote in the Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt ruling, will use this case as an opportunity to seriously limit abortion access or the right to abortion by disregarding precedent that expanded reproductive rights.
The Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt ruling struck down a similar Texas law at the Supreme Court in a 5-3 vote. This law required doctors to have admitting privileges for patients seeking an abortion, leading to the closure of over half of abortion clinics in Texas. The Supreme Court found this law unconstitutional because the Texas government was unable to provide proof of the medical benefits the law would provide.
Media Resources: Pacific Standard 1/25/19; Washington Examiner 1/29/19; Feminist Newswire 6/29/17