Supreme Court hands down major decision reaffirming abortion rights

Tuesday, 30 Jun, 2020

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down abortion restrictions in Louisiana as Chief Justice John Roberts aligned himself with the high court's four liberal justices to uphold precedent.

The law required that doctors providing abortions have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals, which the justices said led to an undue burden on women. A almost identical law to the one in question in Louisiana had been struck down in Texas, in the case of Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.

"I joined the dissent in Whole Woman's Health and continue to believe that the case was wrongly decided", he wrote.

Attorney Ruth Friedman, representing Lee, said: "Given the unfairness built into the federal death penalty system and the many unanswered questions about both the cases of the men scheduled to die and the government's new execution protocol, there must be appropriate court review before the government can proceed with any execution". That doctrine "requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike. The Louisiana law burdens women seeking previability abortions to the same extent as the Texas law".

Justice Roberts pointed to the earlier case when deciding to reject the Louisiana law. After Louisiana appealed, the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law.

"In yet another activist decision by the courts, the Supreme Court's ruling overruled a law that was passed with a strong bipartisan coalition, ripping away basic safety standards for women that will put the lives of even more women at risk", said Louisiana House Republican Whip Steve Scalise. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the majority opinion that the law "imposes an undue burden on a woman's constitutional right to choose to have an abortion". He explained, "The evidence shows, among other things, that the fact that hospital admissions for abortion are vanishingly rare means that, unless they also maintain active OB/GYN practices, abortion providers in Louisiana are unlikely to have any recent in-hospital experience".

In keeping with a string of other unconstitutional maneuvers, Chief Justice John Roberts joined once again with the bench's leftists in June Medical Services v. Russo, authoring his own concurring opinion that cut against the Constitution, life, and women.

"The record here establishes that [the law's] admitting-privileges requirement places a substantial obstacle in the path of a large fraction of those women seeking an abortion", he said. "We consequently hold that the Louisiana statute is unconstitutional".

Advocates for the law, called the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, argued that the law is meant to ensure the safety of patients seeking abortions.

When Anthony Kennedy resigned, many of us anxious that it was the death knell for federally recognized abortion rights, and that Roe v. Wade's days were numbered, but in siding with the pro-choice wing of the court in June Medical, John Roberts has indicated that might not be the case. Since that ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who voted to overturn the law, was replaced by the more conservative Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. "We added that " '[u] nnecessary health regulations'" impose an unconstitutional "'undue burden'" if they have "'the objective or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion'".

And just as it was when The Last Abortion Clinic was released, the focus in the abortion fight is back on the Supreme Court.

This is massive. Roberts' rulings in recent weeks-on the side of LGBT employees, in favor of allowing Dreamers to remain in the USA, and in other cases-have shown him to be a far more adaptable and politically pragmatic justice than anyone would've expected.

Justice Alito also focused on standing in his stinging dissent, saying that "The idea that a regulated party can invoke the right of a third party for the objective of attacking legislation enacted to protect the third party is stunning".

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

Abortion providers argued this was an unnecessary requirement unrelated to health outcomes that only served to prevent them from being able to provide abortion care.