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Supreme Court takes on question of admitting privileges for Louisiana abortionists

abortion, supreme court

Pro-lifers should keep an eye on the Supreme Court of the United States beginning March 4, 2020, as it begins hearing an important abortion-related case, currently referred to as June Medical Services v. Phillips (formerly June Medical Services v. Gee). The case centers on a 2014 law in Louisiana known as Act 620, or “The Unsafe Abortion Act,” which aims to ensure women who are injured during abortions are able to receive proper, consistent medical care by enforcing the requirement that physicians have admitting privileges. The defendants in the case are also challenging the idea of third party standing for abortion businesses who serve as plaintiffs in cases like this.

Act 620, authored by Democratic Senator Katrina Jackson and signed in 2014, requires that abortionists have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility. Admitting privileges would allow for a patient’s consistency of care. A doctor with admitting privileges would be able to alert emergency room staff of a patient’s condition before the patient arrives — a crucial part of receiving timely care when it really matters. The law would also ensure the competency of abortionists, since hospitals review a doctor’s training and experience before allowing him or her to have admitting privileges. This would help protect women from bad doctors — who seem to be in abundance at Louisiana abortion facilities.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, the Hope Medical Group for Women, and two abortionists have sued the state of Louisiana concerning this law and originally won their case when the District Court ruled the law to be unconstitutional. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decided the law would stand. As it heads to the Supreme Court, it is the first abortion-related case to be heard by both Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both considered to be conservative-leaning judges.

READ: Trump administration joins others in asking Supreme Court to uphold Louisiana abortion law

Abortion facilities in Louisiana have admitted they do not run background checks on the doctors they hire. According to Alliance Defending Freedom, Leroy Brinkley, the president of two of Louisiana’s three existing abortion facilities — Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge and Women’s Health Care Clinic in New Orleans — testified, “I don’t judge the license. If they have a license and the state gave the license, it’s not for me to determine if they are capable,” adding that doing background checks on doctors isn’t within his “framework.”

According to the Amici Curiae brief in the case, the medical director at June Medical Services (the plaintiff in the case) admitted the same. “Just like Delta and Women’s Health, the medical director at June Medical ‘admits he neither performed background checks nor inquired into their previous training’ before bringing in new doctors,” the document reads.

Because of this, an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) and a radiologist were committing abortions at June Medical Services.

Brinkley (from Delta and WHCC) brought on Dr. A. James Whitmore who perforated a woman’s uterus and lacerated the uterine artery. However, according to the previously mentioned brief, “A coworker testified that Dr. Whitmore ‘would not let her call 911 because of possible media involvement.’” The coworker called 911 anyway and doctors at the ER had to perform a complete hysterectomy on the woman.

Another woman who underwent an abortion in Louisiana with Dr. David Lee Golden suffered an incomplete abortion. According to the Amici Curiae brief:

[Golden] callously abandoned a woman named Audrey D. when she experienced excruciating pain following a surgical abortion. “He told her he had to go somewhere” but “did not return,” so he had “the nurses give[ ] her some Tylenol” and instruct her to “go home and lie down.”… Dr. Golden suspected that “the fetal skull remained in the uterus,” yet he “released her without performing an additional pelvic examination,” … or telling her that “he suspected the abortion to be incomplete.”

The document further notes that after Audrey left, her “pain got so bad” that she went to the ER, where a “tear in the uterus” was found with “a portion of the placenta protruding through it” along with “a large hematoma” which contained “a fetal head.” Audrey had to have an emergency hysterectomy.

“These examples illustrate the high cost of Louisiana abortion facilities’ medical incompetence and failure to screen doctors,” Alliance Defending Freedom wrote in the brief to the Court. “Women’s lives are endangered, and their ability to have children is ripped away. The costs are so great and the situation so dire that the legislature felt compelled to act.”

READ: HORROR: Woman loses ability to bear children after botched first-trimester abortion at Louisiana facility

The plaintiffs in this case claim the admitting privileges requirement is a “pretext” and not a legitimate safety measure for women — however, all ambulatory care centers in the state of Louisiana require doctors to have admitting privileges, and this requirement has been in place for decades. Why should doctors who commit abortions be the one exception to the rule? Currently, only one abortionist in Louisiana has admitting privileges. A true concern for women’s health should be reflected in a desire to comply with commonsense safety regulations, like every other physician. All physicians should be putting patients over profit.

This law is about ensuring that women undergoing abortions are able to receive quality medical care by emergency room doctors who would then have access to their charts. It would also ensure that abortionists with proper training were committing abortions — not ophthalmologists and radiologists. If the Supreme Court rules in support of the law, it would open the door for similar abortion laws to be enacted in other states fighting similar battles for women’s health.

It is a major conflict of interest for an abortion business to claim to represent women’s interests in court, when those abortionists stand to benefit financially should they win the case. 

In every abortion procedure one person dies. Commonsense safety laws can help to ensure it isn’t two. We must protect women, and protect life. 

Visit Protect Women Protect Life for more information on this important court case. A rally will take place outside the Supreme Court on the day of oral arguments, March 4, 2020. See the Facebook event page here.

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