US Supreme Court rules to uphold abortion rights

29 Juin, 2020, 18:19 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana abortion law

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a Louisiana law requiring that individuals who perform abortions at clinics have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital is unconstitutional, as it places an undue burden on women seeking abortions. "The question today however is not whether Whole Woman's Health was right or wrong, but whether to adhere to it in deciding the present case".

The decision comes after a spring in which eight states sought to heavily restrict abortions as "elective" procedures during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

However, in 2018, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals surprised court watchers by reversing a decision on the Louisiana law that struck it down based on the 2016 Supreme Court case.

Why it matters: The court's 5-4ruling largely leaves the status quo of abortion law unchanged, affirms the court's precedents and leaves big decisions about the future of abortion access for another day. "Therefore Louisiana's law can not stand under our precedent", he said. It was that action that led the case, ultimately, to the Supreme Court.

In two previous abortion cases, Roberts had favoured restrictions.

A trial judge had said the law would not provide health benefits to women and would leave only one clinic open in Louisiana, in New Orleans. However, they are highly effective at shuttering clinics, which perform the majority of America's abortions. "Act 620 is unconstitutional", Breyer wrote in conclusion on the June Medical opinion. Admitting privileges can be hard for abortion providers to obtain as hospitals do not want to be associated with them due to the stigma and as abortion is a statistically safe procedure, requiring extremely limited numbers of patients to have to go to hospitals for care. These agreements, called "admitting privileges", are extremely hard to obtain and a breadth of research has shown they provide no medical benefit.

This is not a particularly groundbreaking ruling, on the law. That would have more than tripled the average distance women in the region would have to travel to access abortion services, and would disproportionately impact low-income women of color, according to research in the journal Contraception.

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"We're relieved that people in Louisiana can still get care & celebrate this victory in the ongoing fight to ensure abortion rights for all", the institute said in a tweet.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, noted that the Louisiana law is "almost word-for-word identical" to a Texas law the court ruled was unconstitutional in 2016's Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.

The petitioners asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether that decision violated past precedents and should be struck down.

Breyer said that the state had made the "unmistakable concession" of waiving the argument in exchange for a "quick decision" from the District Court.

Trump pledged during his 2016 election campaign to overturn Roe v Wade, a key goal of right-wing evangelical Republicans. The president has repeatedly touted his success in nominating two ultra-conservative justices to the supreme court, tilting the balance of the nine-member court to the right.

It's also a comfort to liberals who feared that the Court had irreparably been yanked ideologically to the right with the additions of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

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