Supreme Court overturns Louisiana abortion restrictions

The Supreme Court reaffirmed protections against abortion on Monday, tearing down a Louisiana abortion restriction that, if its implementation were allowed, could have made the state the first to be without a legal abortion provider since Roe v. Wade.

The decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts coinciding with the four-member liberal minority of the court, is the court’s first major decision on abortion rights since two people named by Trump took the bench, bestowing a major victory. to abortion rights supporters who have been concerned about the court’s decision. new ideological composition and how that would affect the future of access to abortion.

Thursday’s 138-page decision, written by Judge Stephen Breyer, encountered the Louisiana restriction, which requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital: a violated precedent set in the 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Judgment. Hellerstedt, a case that dealt with almost identical regulation in Texas.

In his opinion, Breyer wrote that Louisiana law was “unconstitutional.”

“This case is similar, almost identical, to Whole Woman’s Health. And, accordingly, the law must come to a similar conclusion,” Breyer wrote. Chief Justice Roberts did not agree with Breyer’s opinion, but agreed with the ruling on the basis of upholding precedents previously decided by the Supreme Court.

The plaintiffs in the case, known as June Medical Services v. Russo challenged the Louisiana “Unsafe Abortion Protection Act”, a law that has been blocked by the courts since its passage in 2014. Supporters of the law say it was designed to improve patient safety, but critics They say their intention was to close the clinics that provide abortion services.

Major professional medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, disagreed with the health claims, saying that given the safety of the procedure, admitting privilege laws for abortion providers it is medically unnecessary.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, the law firm that defied the law, praised the decision Monday, but added that abortion rights remain uncertain.

“We are relieved that Louisiana law has been blocked today, but we are concerned about tomorrow,” said Nancy Northup, the center’s president and chief executive officer, in a statement e-mailed to CBS News on Monday. “[T]The Court’s decision could encourage states to pass even more restrictive laws when clarity is needed to protect abortion rights. “

Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, issued a similar warning, saying “the fight is far from over.”

“While today is a victory for Louisianans, we must remember that we are in a world where politicians have pushed basic health care almost out of reach for millions of Americans, and where their ability to access abortion is still determined by where you live, how much money you make, and in this country that effectively means the color of your skin, too, “McGill wrote in a statement to CBS News.

The White House called Monday’s decision an “unfortunate ruling” and defended the states’ authority to regulate abortion.

“[T]The Supreme Court devalued both the mothers’ health and the lives of unborn children, “the White House statement said.” … States have legitimate interests in regulating any medical procedure, including abortions, to protect patient safety. Rather than valuing fundamental democratic principles, unelected judges meddled in the sovereign prerogatives of state governments by imposing their own pro-abortion political preferences to override legitimate abortion safety standards. ”

As of November, only one of the five abortion doctors in Louisiana was in compliance with the law, a doctor in the northwest corner of the state. However, that doctor’s administrator told CBS News that if the law were implemented, he would resign to avoid harassment by anti-abortion rights groups for being “the last man standing”.

The author of the law, Louisiana State Representative Katrina Jackson, has denied that its purpose was to reduce access to abortion, and called the regulation “common sense women’s health care.”

Elizabeth Murrill, the state attorney general and attorney who upheld the regulation before the Supreme Court, agreed and said its purpose was “to protect the health and safety of women who are having abortions.”

Monday’s decision was a severe blow to anti-abortion rights activists, who saw the Trump presidency as an opportunity to reverse legal protections for abortion. In an e-mailed statement to CBS News on Monday, Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, said she was “horrified” by the decision.

“This decision underscores the importance of nominating and confirming judges who abstain from legislating off the bench, something pro-life voters will certainly remember in November,” said Mancini.