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WASHINGTON, D.C., October 4, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday it will take up the case of Louisiana’s admitting privileges law, which could have the potential of upending the high court’s most recent pro-abortion precedent.
The court announced Friday it has decided to review June Medical Services LLC v. Gee, NPR reports. The case concerns Louisiana’s Act 620, which requires abortion centers to make arrangements for admitting women to hospitals within 30 miles in cases of life-threatening complications. The abortion industry’s attorneys argue the law is no different from the Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt; pro-lifers argue that not only was Hellerstedt wrongly decided, but that the Louisiana law is different from the Texas one.
In September, Judge Jerry Smith of the Fifth Circuit (which upheld the law) noted that while the laws may be similar, the Louisiana measure’s impact would be different as most Louisiana hospitals didn’t have the Texas requirement that doctors must see a minimum number of patients per year to qualify for admitting privileges. In February, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted (in a dissent to a ruling granting a stay of the law) that Act 620 had a 45-day transition period during which “both the doctors and the relevant hospitals” could have acted “expeditiously and in good faith to reach a definitive conclusion about whether those three doctors can obtain admitting privileges.”
A ruling is likely to be handed down during the already-contentious 2020 election year, in which abortion and judicial nominations will be major issues for both President Donald Trump and his Democrat opponent.
The case is likely to at the very least impact the Hellerstedt precedent, which has been used to invalidate a broad range of modest abortion regulations as “undue burdens” on women. It’s an open question whether a majority would take the opportunity to make a broader determination as to the underlying legitimacy of Roe v. Wade or Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade, which imposed abortion on demand across the U.S. in 1973, would mean states could decide their own abortion laws.
During his confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh expressed significant respect for Roe’s status as precedent – so much so that pro-abortion Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine specifically cited her confidence that Kavanaugh would uphold Roe as part of why she voted to confirm him.
Last year, he joined the court’s liberal wing in declining to hear Kansas and Louisiana’s appeals defending their efforts to cut off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood, a decision that Justice Clarence Thomas excoriated as “abdicating our judicial duty.” His February opinion in support of Louisiana’s Act 620 rejected abortionists’ complaint on technical grounds, but appeared to concede their underlying premises about the “undue burden” standard for abortion restrictions.
Roberts, who also expressed respect for Roe as “a little more than settled” precedent during his own confirmation hearings, has disillusioned conservatives ever since he voted in 2012 and 2015 to uphold Obamacare using intensely controversial reasoning. Roberts also voted with the court’s liberal wing in the aforementioned Medicaid case.