Today the Supreme Court is hearing a case about a Louisiana abortion law that could have ramifications across America. As NPR reports, SCOTUS is hearing arguments in a case to decide whether an abortion access law in Louisiana can go forward. That law mandates that any doctor performing an abortion in the state can only do so if they have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. “Admitting privileges” is when a doctor has an agreement with a hospital to be able to send and treat their patients there.
Supporters of the law say it increases the health and safety protections of women who undergo abortions. However, opponents argue that the hurdles for an abortion doctor to get admitting privileges are so great that the law would have the opposite effect: there would be fewer doctors who could legally carry out abortions in the state.
Matter of fact, a federal district court judge already struck down the law, siding with opponents. As NPR notes, the judge found that the law would mean only one abortion doctor in the state would be able to legally provide abortions. The judge also noted that abortions are relatively safe procedures, and it’s “extremely rare” for complications needing hospital treatment to arise.
But after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the federal judge, now the Supreme Court is having its say. Back in 2016, the Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that a similar Texas law was unconstitutional. However, that swing vote was provided by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired in 2018. Kennedy was replaced with Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who has stated his belief that the Louisiana law should be left in place. With Kavanaugh the swing vote now, its possible SCOTUS could rule 5-4 in favor of the Louisiana law this time.
The concern from women’s health and pro-choice activists is that if SCOTUS does uphold the Louisiana law, it could be the first step in a more conservative Supreme Court overturning the decades-old Roe v. Wade ruling. It’s little wonder then that a rally to protect abortion rights in America is happening outside the Supreme Court right now. You can check out the livestream of it below.