Abortion, immigrants, LGBT rights top high court's new term

Henrietta Brewer
October 5, 2019

"Gee-Order.pdf" target="_blank">dissenting opinion, Kavanaugh argued the law should have been allowed to go into effect so abortionists in the state could determine whether they are able to gain admitting privileges. Like an OH law that requires abortion clinics to have transfer agreements with nearby hospitals, the Louisiana law is meant to shutter abortion clinics, abortion rights advocates say. Admitting privileges in particular are hard to obtain because they often require that the doctor admits a certain number of patients per year - and since abortion is low complication procedure, that doesn't often happen.

"The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will hear June Medical Services v. Gee, a case that could well be the vehicle the Court's conservatives use to gut the right to an abortion", they write.

Like the Texas law that the court previously struck down, the Louisiana law requires any doctor performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital; it also requires that clinics that provide abortions be, in effect, mini-hospitals, with everything from wide corridors to expensive equipment.

In February, the court granted one clinic's request for an emergency stay of the law while the case proceeds.

The court did not follow that path Friday.

"In any case, we know that the abortion industry is the most unregulated surgical industry in the nation and that its practitioners are the losers and washouts of the medical profession", he continued.

The Supreme Court said in the Texas case that neither was needed to protect women's health and that both requirements imposed "a substantial burden" on a woman's right to abortion.

Writing for the majority, Judge Jerry E. Smith conceded that the state had not provided any instance in which a patient sustained "a worse result" because a doctor lacked hospital admitting privileges.

The case is one of several cultural touchstones the Supreme Court will take up this year - including cases on employment discrimination against LGBT Americans, gun rights, and Trump's elimination of protections undocumented immigrants brought into the United States as children.

Similarly, Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins said the Supreme Court "now has a chance in this case to reconsider, reverse, and return Roe v. Wade and the issue of abortion to the American people, which is long overdue".

Following the 5th Circuit decision, abortion clinics in Louisiana appealed to the Supreme Court. The majority, in a 5-3 decision, said the law created an "undue burden" on women seeking access to abortion.

For Roberts, it was a rare vote against an abortion restriction in more than 13 years as chief justice, perhaps a reflection of his new role since Kennedy's retirement as the court's swing justice and his concern about the court being perceived as a partisan institution.

The high court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973 and reaffirmed it in 1992 in a ruling that disallowed abortion laws that placed an "undue burden" on a woman's ability to obtain an abortion.

Through July 2019, states have enacted 58 new abortion restriction laws this year - 26 of which would ban all or most abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute. A divided federal appeals court rejected those claims and upheld the law. Just a few days ago, a federal judge temporarily blocked the law, but this is only a temporary victory, because it puts the law in the track to the Supremes and, if the fact they are willing to even hear and consider the June case is any indication, they could be eager to reopen the Roe can of worms.

Since Kavanaugh joined the court last October, it has sent mixed signals on abortion.

The case does not call for overturning Roe vs. Wade or upholding bans on abortion. In defending the law, the state of Oklahoma contended that women in the second trimester of pregnancy could find an alternative.

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