SCOTUS overturns Louisiana Abortion Law Requiring Admitting Privileges

The Supreme Court has ruled on a Louisiana law that should not stand and reaffirms abortion rights.

The opinion was written by Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts also filed an opinion concurring for the majority.

June Medical Services vs. Russo was a Louisiana law that required abortion providers have admitting privileges with a nearby hospital — an agreement between a doctor and a hospital that allows a patient to go that hospital if they need urgent care.

Abortion providers argued this was an unnecessary requirement unrelated to health outcomes that only served to prevent them from being able to provide abortion care. Admitting privileges can be difficult for abortion providers to obtain as hospitals do not want to be associated with them due to the stigma and as abortion is a statistically safe procedure, requiring extremely limited numbers of patients to have to go to hospitals for care.

In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled on a similar admitting privileges case in Texas that caused “undue burden” on patients seeking abortions after it caused roughly half of clinics in the state to shut down. Breyer called the Louisiana law “almost word-for-word identical to Texas’ admitting-privileges law.”

Roberts’ vote was a bit of a surprise because he voted in the Texas case to uphold the clinic restrictions. It may have reflected his new role since Kennedy’s retirement as the court’s swing justice, his concern about the court being perceived as a partisan institution and respect for a prior decision of the court, even one he disagreed with. Roberts didn’t write anything explaining his position at the time, but he had never before cast a vote on the side of abortion rights.

This was at ABC News.

Also at PBS.

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