Abortion Law in Louisiana Delay Temporarily by the Supreme Court

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AbortionThe United States Supreme Court’s Justice Samuel Alito said on Feb. 1, 2019, that they require more time to decide if a strict abortion law should be put into effect in Lousiana on Feb. 4.

Alito stated that the Supreme Court justices required more time to study the case. The case will be revisited on Feb. 7. He added that this sudden change does not reflect the merits regarding the lawsuit.

Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, which became law in 2014 has been stopped by legal battles. The law required that a doctor performing an abortion must have hospital admitting privileges within a 30-mile radius of the hospital.

The state says the law is imperative in order to provide a greater level of medical providers competence. Critics argue there is no medical rationale, and the only purpose of the law is to restrict abortion unlawfully.

Judge John deGravelles in 2017 invalidated the law. He stated that it would restrict the number of providers who would be able to perform the procedure.  It would also close clinics and add stress to the remaining facilities.

Approximately 10,000 women per year seek an abortion in Louisiana. If the law should go into effect, there would be one physician in the state permitted to perform abortions. Judge deGravelles wrote:

Even working an implausible seven-day week, it would be impossible for him to expand his practice to meet even half the state’s need for abortion services

Louisiana has admitted that their law is identical to a Texas abortion law the Supreme Court voted against in 2016 by a 5 to 3 margin. The Supreme Court said at the time regarding the requirement of admitting privileges that it “provides little, if any, health benefits for women, poses an obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”

Both sides agree that a woman requiring hospitalization after an abortion is rare, and a doctor lacking admitting privileges would not prevent a woman from getting medical care if needed.

The implications of the decision by the Supreme Court could be a sign whether or not the court will uphold Roe v. Wade. Conservatives have been pushing to reverse the decision.

Following the Texas ruling, laws requiring a doctor to have admitting privileges has been rejected by Wisconsin, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Mississippi. Utah, Missouri, and North Dakota have similar laws in effect.

Judge Alito is responsible for receiving emergency requests from the circuit court which upheld the abortion law.

The Supreme Court must also decide if they want to hear an abortion case challenging an Indiana law banning the procedure because of disability, sex or race. The law signed by Mike Pence when he was governor also requires the remains of the abortion be cremated or buried.

In March, the court is also scheduled to hear cases from Maryland and North Caroline challenging partisan election maps.  In April or May, the court may hear a case challenging Trump who wants to add a citizen question on the 2020 Census. In the fall they are scheduled to hear gun rights cases.

Written by Barbara Sobel

Sources:

CNN: Supreme Court blocks Louisiana abortion law from taking effect Monday
Vox: Supreme Court blocks Louisiana’s stringent abortion law — but only for a few days
CBS News: Supreme Court temporarily blocks Louisiana abortion clinic law

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