The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday announced it will hear arguments on a Louisiana law that requires physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
The Supreme Court struck down a similar Texas law three years ago, saying the requirement provides few, if any, health benefits for women while restricting the constitutional right to abortion. But the court’s makeup has since changed, with two new justices who were supported by anti-abortion groups.
A Louisiana trial court ruled against the law, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld it. The Supreme Court in February temporarily blocked it from taking effect.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry says the law is “constitutional and consistent with our overall regulatory scheme for surgical procedures" and says abortion providers shouldn’t be allowed to challenge it.
“The evidence of Louisiana abortion clinics’ poor safety records, inadequate credentialing practices, and questionable efforts to undermine health and safety regulations shows that the abortion clinics’ interests are directly adverse to the interests of Louisiana women,” Landry said Friday. “Going forward, my office and I will be carefully reviewing the next steps in our defense of Louisiana's admitting privileges law.”
Ellie Schilling, board president for Lift Louisiana, which supports abortion rights, says the Louisiana law is identical to the one the Supreme Court struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt and the court should reach the same decision.
“Louisiana is openly defying the [Supreme] Court’s 2016 ruling that states can’t use sham medical regulations to shut down clinics,” said Michelle Erenberg, executive director of Lift Louisiana. “We are hopeful that the Court will uphold the rule of law, protect our constitutional rights, and be independent of partisan politics. The people of Louisiana shouldn’t be denied their rights because of where they live.”
The Supreme Court has not yet set a date for a hearing. A ruling would be expected next summer.
Most of Louisiana's elected officials oppose abortion rights, and "a multi-year legislative assault" has led to the closure of eight of the 11 abortion clinics in the state, Lift Louisiana says.
This year, lawmakers approved a ban on abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.