A Case That Could Seriously Undermine Abortion Rights Is Before SCOTUS

The Supreme Court announced this morning that it will take up the first abortion case since conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the court. How they rule will have major implications for the future of Roe v. Wade.

The case of June Medical Services v. Gee concerns a Louisiana law—currently blocked from going into effect during the legal battle—that would require physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. There is no medical justification for this requirement. The law is what’s known as a TRAP law, which targets doctors who provide abortion care and imposes regulations designed to make abortions incredibly difficult to get, regardless of whether those regulations make any medical sense. “TRAP laws are coercive barriers that prioritize extreme ideology over the health, rights, and personal autonomy of people in the United States,” Megan Donovan, a senior policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute, said in a statement.

Abortions are already incredibly difficult to access in Louisiana (there are only three clinics currently in operation). If this law goes into effect, it would mean most women in Louisiana would have to travel over 150 miles to get an abortion—a particular blow for women without the resources to take time off work or to travel a long distance.

What makes this case so significant is that the Court heard a nearly identical Texas case back in 2016—and deemed the law unconstitutional.

“Louisiana is openly defying the Supreme Court’s decision from just three years ago, in which they found an identical Texas law unconstitutional,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “We are counting on the Court to follow its precedent, otherwise, clinics will needlessly close and there will be just one doctor left in the entire state to provide abortion care.”

How the Court rules in this case will either solidify the constitutional right to access abortion in the United States or undermine Supreme Court precedent, making the rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade vulnerable.


UPDATE, February 8, 2019: The Supreme Court has officially blocked a restrictive Louisiana abortion law—at least for now.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which officially cemented a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, sparked a lot of questions. Namely: What will happen to abortion rights? With a new case heading to the Supreme Court, the answer is already unfolding.

Last month lawyers brought a case before SCOTUS that could have major consequences for the future of Roe v. Wade. Here’s the rundown: The Center for Reproductive Rights filed an emergency motion asking the Supreme Court to block legislation that would make getting an abortion in the state of Louisiana more difficult. The law requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. If it’s allowed to go into effect, fewer clinics in Louisiana will be able to provide abortions. (As it stands, Louisiana has only three abortion clinics in the entire state.)

It would be a major threat to women in Louisiana seeking abortion care, because most women would have to travel over 150 miles to get an abortion. Translation: “The right to accessing legal abortion could be virtually extinct [in Louisiana],” says TJ Tu, a lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights who is working on the case.

This week, in a 5-4 decision, SCOTUS stepped in to temporarily block the law until they can hear an official appeal later this year. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the dissent.