Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana Abortion Regulation Law

Consider This from NPR

Roberts, who dissented in the 2016 case, noted the Supreme Court's precedent in his concurring opinion: "The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons".

The ruling was 5 to 4 with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., a Bush appointee, joining the liberal wing of the court in ruling for the abortion providers. But he said in his concurring opinion on the Louisiana measure that the question "is not whether Whole Woman's Health was right or wrong, but whether to adhere to it in deciding the present case". "Instead of valuing fundamental democratic principles, unelected justices have intruded on the sovereign prerogatives of state governments by imposing their own policy preference in favor of abortion to override legitimate abortion safety regulations".

But with Kennedy being replaced on the bench by Justice Brett Kavanaugh - one of Donald Trump's two justices - the right hoped the Supreme Court would reverse its 2016 ruling.

Even though he still believes the Texas case was wrongly decided, Roberts explained his rationale for voting differently by saying "the legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike". All told, therefore, June Medical Services reaffirms the basic test in Casey: That so long as a state has a legitimate objective to impose a restriction on abortion that's reasonably related to its goal, the law is constitutional unless it has the "effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus".

However, the 5th Circuit appeals court determined no clinics would "likely be forced to close" because of the law, and allowed it to stand.

Unlike Texas, though, Louisiana officials said their law wouldn't have such a drastic effect.

But Roberts gave them hope that a different challenge to abortion rights might succeed in the future in the conservative court. "And the law must consequently reach a similar conclusion", Breyer wrote.

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The law required doctors to have admitting privileges to a hospital "not further than 30 miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced" in order to perform abortions.

Health experts estimate that more than 800,000 abortions a year are performed in the USA, although the figure is down substantially from the 1978 to 1997 period when the annual figures topped a million abortions and peaked at more than 1.4 million. The hospital would have the right to admit or reject the privilege.

The justices found the Louisiana measure was almost identical to a Texas admitting privileges law they struck down in 2016.

In that decision, now-retired justice Anthony Kennedy joined the court's four liberals to form a majority.

Since the decision in the Texas case, President Trump has nominated Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016 before that ruling.

The ERLC, joined by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, contended in a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Louisiana law the "undue burden" test is the incorrect standard for laws that regulate abortion doctors.

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