US Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana abortion law
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana abortion law Monday in a ruling that will reverberate throughout America.
A majority of the justices ruled the 2014 law by Louisiana state Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, that requires doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges illegally restricts access and is an undue burden to women.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four justices who are considered more liberal in the narrow 5-4 majority decision.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, representing the state in defending the law, argued the law ensures a basic level of care for women.
Opponents said the law would cause many abortion providers to close.
Both sides presented their arguments to the Supreme Court in March.
Louisiana's law, which was put on hold until the Supreme Court ruling, requires doctors to have admitting privileged to a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic in case urgent care is required for the patient.The court struck down a nearly identical law in Texas in 2016, but the makeup of the court has changed since then with two new justices — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Both were appointed by President Trump.
Jackson insisted her law isn't about restricting access, although she is a staunch anti-abortion advocate who has been a featured speaker at the past two National Right to Life Marches in Washington.
She called Monday's ruling tragic.
"The Supreme Court has issued a tragic decision that continues its practice of putting the interests of for-profit abortion businesses ahead of the health and safety of women," Jackson said in a statement. "Together with my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans and women and men, we passed the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act to protect the health and safety of women in Louisiana.
"While today's decision is not what we wanted, we will never stop working to put the women of Louisiana above the interests of the abortion businesses."
But Kathaleen Pittman, the longtime administrator of Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport and lead plaintiff in the case, said the law would likely cause two of Louisiana's three abortion providers to close. The three clinics are in Shreveport, Baton Rouge and New Orleans
"Roe becomes meaningless if there is no access to abortion," she has said.
A federal district court judge previously ruled in Pittman's favor.
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, praised the decision but warned of more challenges to come.
"We’re relieved that the Louisiana law has been blocked today but we’re concerned about tomorrow," she said. "With this win, the clinics in Louisiana can stay open to serve the one million women of reproductive age in the state. But the court’s decision could embolden states to pass even more restrictive laws when clarity is needed if abortion rights are to be protected."
Louisiana leads the nation with 89 abortion restrictions passed since 1973.
Anti-abortion legislation is the one issue that consistently unites Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Last year Edwards signed what's known as the fetal heartbeat abortion ban into law, which ban abortions after about 6 weeks. That law is also on hold as it makes its way through the courts.
Edwards voted for Jackson's law when he was serving in the House.
"Throughout my career and life as a pro-life Catholic, I have advocated for the protection, dignity and sanctity of life and will continue to do so," Edwards said in a statement. “While I voted for the law in question and am disappointed, I respect the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision and trust that Louisiana and our nation will continue to move forward.”
Louisiana Republican Congressman Mike Johnson of Benton said the court "let the women of Louisiana down."
“I am deeply troubled by the Supreme Court’s decision," he said in a statement. "This case was about whether the states have a right and responsibility to institute basic health and safety regulations to protect women—and whether the abortion industry should have the ability to strike down those commonsense health regulations."