Supreme Court blocks Louisiana abortion clinic law

Like the Texas law that the court previously struck down, the Louisiana law requires any doctor performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital; it also requires that clinics that provide abortions be, in effect, minihospitals, with everything from wide corridors to expensive equipment.

The 5-4 vote means the state can not put into effect the law it passed, pending a full review of the case. But even if this win holds, the case shows the plan of attack that the justices, and right-wing legal activists, could use to neuter Roe v. Wade, cautions law professor Leah Litman in a new Washington Post editorial. Without discussing specific justices, Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser lamented that the "Supreme Court continues a disappointing trend of avoiding their responsibility on decisions concerning abortion [.] The Court should not prevent state legislators from doing the job they were elected by their constituents to do". "By contrast, if the three doctors can not obtain admitting privileges, then one or two of the three clinics would not be able to continue providing abortions".

The State represents, moreover, that Louisiana will not "move aggressively to enforce the challenged law" during the transition period, Objection to Emergency Application for Stay 2, and further represents that abortion providers will not "immediately be forced to cease operations", id., at 25.

The U.S. Supreme Court's latest action in an abortion-related case again has prompted pro-life Americans to wonder whether a majority even exists to protect unborn children and their mothers.

And that, says Litman, is the flawless cover for conservative judges to use for the next novel anti-abortion regulation that comes along. The best way to find out which prediction was right, he added, would be to let the law take effect. It could well be the biggest abortion case of the current Supreme Court.

Supreme court precedent is supposed to guide appeals court judges, but in a decision advocates called "rogue", the conservative fifth circuit in Louisiana defied the supreme court's recent decision and voted to allow the law to go into effect. The Court has changed since the case as Trump has appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch to replace the late-Antonin Scalia and Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat of Kennedy, who retired in June. Previously New York allowed abortions after 24 weeks only if the mother's life was in danger, but the new law will allow abortions after 24 weeks if needed to protect the health of the mother.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit earlier this week stopped the execution and ordered expedited briefing in the case. It was a victory, although perhaps a temporary one, for abortion rights supporters. Whelan said he would be "very surprised" if Roberts considers a 2016 decision on a similar Texas law to be "sound precedent". Opponents argue that Louisiana's new restrictions would result in the closure of clinics providing abortions and would therefore block access to the procedure. The stay will remain in place until the Supreme Court decides whether or not to hear the case challenging the Louisiana law on its merits. "Here, only one doctor at one clinic is now unable to obtain privileges", Judge Jerry Smith wrote for the panel, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Ray was allowed to meet with an imam earlier, and the religious leader watched from an adjoining room as Ray was put to death an hour after the Supreme Court rejected the stay request.

"If the doctors, after good-faith efforts during the 45-day period, cannot obtain admitting privileges, then the [court's] factual predictions... could turn out to be accurately applied", Kavanaugh wrote in the third page of his decision. I reached to Ariane de Vogue, a Supreme Court and legal reporter, for answers. The court will likely hear a challenge in the fall, during its next term.

  • Rogelio Becker