Supreme Court narrowly strikes down Louisiana’s abortion admitting privileges law

Louisiana, Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of the United States issued a 5 to 4 ruling today, stating that Louisiana’s Act 620, dubbed “The Unsafe Abortion Protection Act,” is unconstitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberals on the Court. The case of June Medical Services v. Russo was the first abortion-related case to be heard by both Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, considered to be conservative-leading judges, and signifies that the court is also likely unwilling to overturn Roe v. Wade or to allow states to pass commonsense abortion restrictions.

The decision of the Court states, “Louisiana’s Act 620 imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the early identical Texas law invalidated four years ago in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt,” and therefore, “cannot stand under principles of stare decisis.”

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch, a recent Trump appointee, wrote about his belief that abortion providers shouldn’t have standing to file suit on behalf of “an undefined, unnamed, indeed unknown, group of women who they hope will be their patients in the future”:

After overlooking so many facts and the deference owed to the legislative process, today’s decision misapplies many of the rules that normally constrain the judicial process. Start with the question who can sue. To establish standing in federal court, a plaintiff typically must assert an injury to her own legally protected interests—not the rights of someone else….

No one even attempts to suggest this usual prerequisite is satisfied here. The plaintiffs before us are abortion providers. They do not claim a constitutional right to perform that procedure, and no one on the Court contends they hold such a right.

Instead, the abortion providers before us seek only to assert the constitutional rights of an undefined, unnamed, indeed unknown, group of women who they hope will be their patients in the future. In narrow circumstances, to be sure, this Court has allowed cases to proceed based on “third-party standing.” But to qualify, the plaintiff must demonstrate both that he has a “‘close’ relationship” with the person whose rights he wishes to assert and that some “‘hindrance’” hampers the right-holder’s “ability to protect his own interests.”… Think of parents and children, guardians and wards. In these special cases, the logic goes, the plaintiff ’s interests are so aligned with those of a particular right-holder that the litigation will proceed in much the same way as if the right-holder herself were present. Nothing like that exists here.

Democratic Senator Katrina Jackson helped to author the law in 2014, which required abortionists to hold admitting privileges with a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion business. State law requires all ambulatory surgical center physicians and other legitimate healthcare professionals to maintain hospital admitting privileges. After the ruling today, Sen. Jackson responded to the decision in a video, saying, “Once again, unelected justices have substituted their policy preferences over the clear will of the people of my great state. As long as the Supreme Court continues to meddle in an area that rightfully belongs in the democratic process, women will remain subject to substandard abortion facilities. But know that together, with my colleagues, we will continue to pursue policies that both protect the health and safety of women and the lives of the unborn children….”


Though the law was created to protect women, after it was signed, the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, the Hope Medical Group for Women, and two abortionists sued the state of Louisiana to attempt to stop the law from going into effect. A District Court ruled in their favor. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law would stand, and from there it headed to the Supreme Court.

The disappointing decision will allow abortionists in Louisiana to continue to use their victims as a legal shield to continue to operate unchecked. While doctors at all other ambulatory surgical facilities in the state must have admitting privileges at local hospitals, abortionists in the state have avoided this requirement and will continue to do so. Holding abortionists to the same standard as other surgical center physicians would ensure that any woman injured during an abortion would have access to timely and appropriate continuity of care at a local emergency room. Admitting privileges allow an outpatient doctor to alert emergency room staff of the patient’s condition before she arrives at the hospital.

Some abortion businesses in Louisiana have admitted that they do not run background checks on the abortionists they hire. Requiring admitting privileges would help to ensure the competency of abortionists, since hospitals review training and experience before allowing doctors to receive admitting privileges.

Live Action News president and CEO Lila Rose reacted to the decision in a statement:

In the very act of bringing a case against Louisiana’s law, the abortion industry reasserted its obsession with profit, at any cost. Abortion businesses claim to be healthcare entities, but resist any law that holds them to the same health and safety standards as the actual medical community.

Abortion violently dismembers, decapitates, poisons, and crushes the living bodies of children. Abortion is not, has never been, and never will be health care.

Today’s unjust ruling is a reminder that the lives of an entire people group have been wrongly placed in the hands of nine lawyers, several of whom abuse their power to violate the human right to life. With this decision, the Supreme Court has once again provided aid and comfort to the genocidal abortion industry which profits from the pain and fear of mothers and the deaths of their children. A preborn child’s dependency and vulnerability should never mean a death sentence. Americans who value basic human rights and the dignity of all people will continue to fight until every human life is protected by law.

Editor’s Note: This post may be periodically updated.

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