Supreme Court Steps In To Protect Abortion Access in Louisiana


The Fifth Circuit’s emergency stay allowed the law to go into effect last Thursday, which resulted in the temporary closing of one clinic and left Louisiana with only two doctors in the state able to provide abortions.

Under the law, abortion clinics must meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers and doctors providing abortion services must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
In what reproductive-rights advocates hope may foreshadow a major legal victory later this year, the court temporarily reinstated a trial judge’s order blocking a new Louisiana law that requires doctors to obtain a formal affiliation with a local hospital.
The Supreme Court granted on Friday a request made by abortion clinics in Louisiana to temporarily block the abortion law pending appeal.
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.
Supporters of the Louisiana law say it is necessary to ensure that women having complications from abortions receive continuous care if they require hospitalization.
Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, Judge Jennifer Elrod rejected the clinics’ argument that the appeals court should heed earlier Supreme Court action preventing Texas from fully implementing the regulations.
The court is expected to issue its ruling in the Texas case – which will presumably affect the order for Louisiana as well – in June.
She was referring to the court’s rulings past year barring Texas from enforcing a similar law and agreeing to decide its constitutionality.
A federal district judge had blocked Louisiana’s law from enforcement. During the session, Justice Anthony Kennedy showed an openness to striking down the controversial and restrictive Texas anti-abortion law, however he seemed concerned with a “unique procedural issue” related to the case.
The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a decision on an abortion case, but not the one that caused protests this week in Washington, D.C. Most hospitals, The Los Angeles Times points out, refuse to give such privileges to doctors who conduct abortions.
“We are disappointed the Supreme Court has blocked our common-sense admitting privileges law until further appeals in the 5th Circuit, and ultimately, the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision coming in June on a similar law in Texas”, Clapper said. The court’s action keeps clinics open at least until the formal appeal moves through the lower court.
The ruling is a good sign for abortion rights groups. And that only means that the Texas abortion law would take effect. “As attorney general, I will continue to defend Louisiana’s pro-life and pro-woman laws“. The small clinic performs the largest number of abortions in Louisiana.
Just one week before the Supreme Court heard these arguments, however, the Fifth Circuit handed down another anti-abortion decision.
Supreme Court appears split in abortion arguments.
On Wednesday it considered a challenge to Texas abortion regulations, which require that hospital-like standards are met at abortion clinics.
Some might say the justices’ action is unremarkable and should not be read as a sign that five or more justices are ready to strike down the Texas law in Whole Woman’s Health.