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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Supreme Court Props Up Women’s |Access to Abortions in Louisiana

WASHINGTON (CN) - Louisiana cannot enforce new limits on abortion that a federal judge struck down as unconstitutional, the Supreme Court said Friday.

Issuing the order just two days after hearing arguments on the similar law from Texas, the Supreme Court did not issue any accompanying opinion. The Texas law has been blocked by a court stay as well.

Both laws encumber women's access to abortions by making the doctors who perform such services on an outpatient basis maintain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

While Whole Woman's Health is challenging the scheme in Texas, the objection in Louisiana comes from lead plaintiff June Medical Services.

U.S. District Judge John deGrabelles had found that Louisiana's law places an unconstitutional burden on women seeking to have an abortion, but the Fifth Circuit voted last month to block that decision's effect pending Louisiana's appeal.

Noting only that Justice Clarence Thomas disagreed, the Supreme Court vacated the stay Friday afternoon. The bench has been one member short after the death last month of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Applauding the court's order Friday, the Center for Reproductive Rights noted that a stay would have shuttered "three of the four remaining abortion clinics in Louisiana."

Indeed two of the clinics at issue had been forced to close immediately after the Fifth Circuit's ruling, but now they can reopen their doors, the center said.

"If the majority of Louisiana's clinics were to have remained shuttered, the closest provider of safe and legal abortion for many women in the state would have been in Jackson, Mississippi," the center noted.

The Mississippi clinic , called Jackson's Women's Health Organization, "is only open due to a court order obtained by the Center for Reproductive Rights," the center added.

The organization's CEO and president Nancy Northup cheered the Supreme Court for its third intervention in a little over a year "to preserve women's ability to get the constitutionally protected health care they need."

Northup said "these underhanded tactics to cut off women's access to safe, legal abortion simply cannot stand."

The law firms Morrison & Foerster and Rittenberg, Samuel, and Phillips filed the challenge to Louisiana's clinic shutdown law on behalf of Hope Medical Group for Women, Causeway Medical Clinic and Bossier City Medical Suite in August 2014.

Causeway Medical Clinic closed in January 2016, according to the center's statement.

The statement concludes with a testament to the safety of abortion care in the United States, which notes that "less than a quarter of 1 percent of patients experiencing a major complication."

Individual hospital policies or biases against abortion providers meanwhile all serve to make it difficult for abortion providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges, "for reasons not related to the doctors' qualifications," the statement continues.

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