On June 29, 2020 in the case of June Medical Services v Russo, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Louisiana Unsafe Abortion Protection Act is unconstitutional. The law, enacted in 2014, requires doctors who perform abortions in Louisiana to have the right to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles of the place where the abortion is performed.
Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority, reasoned that the law would impose an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to an abortion. Specifically, the District court (which is the lower court) - after a trial with much evidence submitted, concluded that if the law went into effect, there would be only one doctor in the entire state left performing abortions in the early stages of pregnancy, and none at all performing abortions between 17 and 21 weeks of pregnancy.
The Louisiana admitting-privileges requirement, Breyer explained, “is almost word-for-word identical to Texas’ admitting-privileges law ” which was held unconstitutional in its 2016 decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Just as in the Texas case, Breyer continued, the District court in Louisiana concluded that the requirement does not provide any real health benefits for women, while at the same time making it “impossible” for abortion providers to get privileges “for reasons that have nothing to do with the State’s asserted interests in promoting women’s health and safety.” And that in turn, Breyer wrote, prompted the district court to find that the requirement “places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking an abortion” in Louisiana.
The case was decided by a slim majority carried by Chief Justice Roberts. However, Chief Justice Roberts only concurred with the majority because he believes that the Supreme Court should follow its own precedent, that is, the Texas case. However, in the Texas case, he wrote a dissenting opinion. So, the war against our rights is not over even if we won this battle.
For more details, see our blog post here
We must continue to fight to maintain our reproductive justice rights. If you are interested in joining our Action Team, please send a motivated email explaining how you would like to assist to [email protected]