SCOTUS blocks Louisiana abortion law from taking effect


Reprinted from Baptist Press (, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. The petitioners argue that nearly all abortion clinics in the state would close while the matter is pending in the Supreme Court and that the justices should keep the law from going into effect during that time.

"Louisiana legislators on both sides of the aisle enacted this law to protect women from the abortion lobby which repeatedly puts profit over health and safety standards, and has proven incapable of policing itself", she said in a statement.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights hailed the decision, telling The Washington Post, "The Supreme Court has stepped in under the wire to protect the rights of Louisiana women". "The Supreme Court rightfully refused to uphold a brazen and unconstitutional attempt to ignore identical cases that are meant to shutter abortion clinics in the state, making Roe v. Wade obsolete".

Louisiana appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, and a three-judge panel voted 2 to 1 to allow the state law to go into effect. That was in 2016, before the confirmations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Court. If so, this stay is a bad sign for pro-life forces. But the federal appeals court in New Orleans upheld the law, concluding it was not certain that any clinic would have to close.

The court on February 1 temporarily blocked the Lousiana law, which was due to go into effect on February 4, while the justices decided how to proceed.

The 2014 law mandates that abortion clinics have admitting privileges to hospitals within 30 miles and adopted other patient protection measures. It presented a statute that we all knew was unconstitutional, and asked SCOTUS to rule in favor of the law simply because lots of people really, really oppose abortion. The appeals court denied January 18 a request for a review by all the judges.

They blamed the four-term ME senator for providing Kavanaugh with the opportunity to join the losing side of a 5-4 ruling that blocked proposed restrictions on who could perform abortions in Louisiana. "If the justices decide to take up the case, which seems likely because the prospect that the Supreme Court will grant review is one of the criteria that the justices considered before granting the stay, oral argument would likely be held in the fall of 2019 or winter of 2020, with a decision by the end of June 2020". Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the man who assured Sen.

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Kavanaugh wrote a dissenting opinion in which he said the court's action was premature because the state had made clear it would allow abortion providers an additional 45 days to obtain admitting privileges before it started enforcing the law.

A district court judge had struck down the Louisiana law because he found it would have resulted in the closure of at least one, and perhaps two, of the state's three abortion clinics, and left the state with no more than two doctors who could meet the law's requirements.

The doctors have a 45-day regulatory transition period in which to obtain privileges from hospitals and could bring a complaint at the conclusion of that time if they are unsuccessful, Kavanaugh wrote. Eleven judges on the appeals court are Republican appointees, five of them Trump appointees. Roberts dissented in that case.

Two years ago, Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold the law in Texas. They said that it was not medically necessary, abortion is a safe procedure, and in fact the law would leave only one provider in the state.

SCOTUS struck down a similar Texas law in 2016. The 5-3 decision, with Justice Anthony Kennedy joining the Court's liberal bloc, ruled in Whole Women's Health that abortion reforms could not create an "undue burden on abortion access".

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Trump called for legislation to limit what he and anti-abortion rights activists describe as "late-term abortion".