Supreme Court strikes down restrictive abortion law; Roberts concurrence provides fifth vote

Terrisa Bukovinac

For the first time since President Donald Trump appointed two justices to the United States Supreme Court, the Highest Court in the land ruled on abortion. But Professor Melissa Murray, an expert in reproductive rights law, says he has not become a liberal, but rather he has followed the logic of earlier legal cases.

The 2014 Louisiana law said that doctors must hold privileges at hospitals within 30 miles (48km) of their practice - which the state argued was to protect women's health.

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".

But Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., while not agreeing with its reasoning, cast his lot with the court's liberals after concluding that respect for precedent compelled him to side with them.

But critics said the controversial law would limit the number of providers in the state, violating a woman's right to an abortion.

Meanwhile, Missouri's admitting-privilege requirement has survived several court challenges, most recently when U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes in Kansas City refused to block the law. The Court agreed to hear the case in October.

Supreme Court strikes down restrictive abortion...

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In May, it refused to consider reinstating Indiana's ban on abortions performed because of fetal disability or the sex or race of the fetus while upholding the state's requirement that fetal remains be buried or cremated after an abortion.

The ruling offered the latest setback to many evangelical Christians and conservatives who have sought the addition of originalist or strict constructionist justices to the Supreme Court.

He said his decision to join with the progressives in the case, June Medical Services v Russo, was strictly on institutional grounds, and not because he believed the Louisiana law was unconstitutional.

In the court's opinion, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer described the measure under consideration as "almost word-for-word identical" to the Texas law and said it "would place substantial obstacles in the path of women seeking an abortion in Louisiana".

Dissenting were Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

His ruling came after Senior U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs in Kansas City had previously blocked the law, finding that women's abortion rights were "being denied on a daily basis, in irreparable fashion".

"In an unfortunate ruling today, the Supreme Court devalued both the health of mothers and the lives of unborn children", said a statement from spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany. When Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy retired in 2018, Trump nominated Kavanaugh. In 2019, Gov. Mike Parson signed a law criminalizing abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy.

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