Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana abortion law

Staff Reports
Plaquemine Post South

The United States Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana abortion law today a ruling that will reverberate throughout America.

A majority of the justices ruled the 2014 law by Louisiana state Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, that requires doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges illegally restricts access and be an undo burden to women.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices in the narrow 5-4 majority decision.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, representing the state in defending the law, argued the law ensures a basic level of care for women.

Opponents said the law will cause many abortion providers to close. 

Both sides presented their arguments to the Supreme Court in March.

Louisiana's law, which was put on hold until the Supreme Court ruling, requires doctors to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic in case urgent care is required for the patient.

The court struck down a nearly identical law in Texas in 2016, but the makeup of the court has changed since then with two new justices —  Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Both were appointed by President Trump.

Jackson insists her law isn't about restricting access, although she is a staunch anti-abortion advocate who has been a featured speaker at the past two National Right to Life Marches in Washington.

"This is about a minimum standard of care for women that we require for every other procedure," said Jackson, who was serving in the state House when she authored the bill. "It's a common sense law."

But Kathaleen Pittman, the longtime administrator of Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport and lead plaintiff in the case, said the law would likely cause two of Louisiana's three abortion providers to close. The three clinics are in Shreveport, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

"Roe becomes meaningless if there is no access to abortion," she has said.

A federal district court judge previously ruled in Pittman's favor.

Louisiana leads the nation with 89 abortion restrictions passed since 1973.

Anti-abortion legislation is the one issue that consistently unites Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Last year Edwards signed what's known as the fetal heartbeat abortion ban into law, which ban abortions after about 6 weeks. That law is also on hold as it makes its way through the courts.