As states such as Texas have become more willing to push the limits of the existing incremental politics of abortion, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear any of the cases challenging such laws, allowing the lower federal courts to strike down the most aggressive examples.
“We’ll hear argument this morning in Case 15274, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt“, Chief Justice Roberts announced.
Mainstream medical groups have repeatedly said that admitting privileges are not necessary to make abortion safer than it already is. Doctors can perform those procedures safely in a doctor’s office, without the need for a fully equipped surgical center, they said. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court held that “the State may enact regulations to further the health or safety of a woman seeking an abortion, but may not impose unnecessary health regulations that present a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion“.
The Texas case also involves a separate provision that requires clinics to have costly, hospital-grade facilities.
Abortion rights lawyers said that if the admitting privileges rule were enforced, “the state of Louisiana will be left with a single abortion provider”.
Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Benjamin Clapper expressed his disappointment in the reversal of the federal appeals court in New Orleans.
Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out that Texas had reported few complications from abortion before the law was passed and asked whether there would be “more women or fewer women who die because of complications from abortions” after these restrictions.
But on Friday the U.S. Supreme Court effectively reversed that 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling by vacating the stay, according to the Associated Press.
With this action, the state’s Supreme Court blocked Louisiana from enforcing a law that threatened to close nearly all the state’s abortion clinics. The 5th Circuit’s procedure would have indicated that the law is constitutional because more than 90 percent of all women of reproductive age are within 150 miles of an abortion clinic, the attorneys’ motion said.
The Supreme Court’s ruling later this year will determine whether or not the regulations can come into effect.
Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are done playing nice – they are ready to stand up and defend the women of Texas. Orders, unlike decisions, do not create binding precedents, so it’s by choice and not by rule or norm that the justices in the Louisiana case agreed to block the law on March 4th.
Clinic advocates have said the admitting privileges requirement could leave Louisiana with just one abortion clinic, located in New Orleans. Several other doctors who have been performing abortions in the state have been unable to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
The justices are scheduled to meet Friday when they will take a preliminary vote on the Texas abortion case. Among other things, this opinion blessed a provision of Texas law requiring abortion clinics to undergo expensive renovations in order to comply with regulations governing “ambulatory surgical centers“, even if the clinic does not actually perform any surgeries.
Clapper said that although the facilities and doctors are claiming they have not had enough time to get admitting privileges, the amount of time they had was similar to the amount of time involved in the implementation of a similar law in Texas. Whole Woman’s Health, the organization suing Texas, argues that the restrictions are really just part of a well-orchestrated strategy to decimate the right to abortion the Supreme Court enshrined in Roe.
The laws threaten to shut down abortion clinics across the country, and the fate of those abortion clinics depends on the outcome of the Wednesday’s arguments.