In a 5-4 vote late Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a Louisiana law that would require providers of abortion from admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s four liberals judges in preventing the law from going into effect, pending a complete review of the case.
Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch (both Supreme Court appointees of President Donald J. Trump), joined Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas in indicating they would have denied the application-allowing the pro-life law to go into effect.
It is possible that the Supreme Court may take the case, which would not be heard until sometime after October, but for now, the law that mandates abortion clinics maintain basic health and safety standards will remain blocked. If the Supreme Court ends up taking the case, Roberts will likely be the deciding vote. However, if the Supreme Court decides it will not hear the case, the stay will be lifted and the pro-life law will go into effect.
“In 2016, a divided eight-member Supreme Court struck down a similar law from Texas, which that state had argued was intended to protect the health of pregnant women. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired last year, joined the court’s four more liberal justices in concluding that, although the state has a legitimate interest in protecting women’s health, there was no evidence that the admitting-privileges requirement promoted that interest. On the other hand, the majority stressed, the admitting-privileges requirement made it much harder for women to obtain abortions.
Louisiana itself had described the admitting-privileges requirement as identical to the one struck down, and a federal district court declared the law unconstitutional, reasoning that the requirement does “little or nothing for women’s health” but would “cripple women’s ability to have an abortion.” In September 2018 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit reversed, and 10 days ago the full 5th Circuit rejected the challengers’ request to rehear the case.”
When the full Fifth Circuit rejected an appeal (9-6) to rehear the case in January 2019, attorneys representing abortionists filed a petition with the Supreme Court, arguing the law is almost identical to the one struck down in Texas in 2016, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In the Texas case, the Supreme Court required admitting privileges provided “few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”
Conservatives were less than thrilled with Justice Roberts’ vote:
While liberals applauded his decision to “protect women’s rights” to kill their unborn children: