US Supreme Court quashes strict Louisiana abortion law in major decision

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States Supreme Court upheld the right to abortion in an important decision released Monday by overturning a Louisiana law that restricts doctors who perform the procedure, striking down advocates of the law. ‘abortion.

Decision 5-4, with Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joining the majority of the four Liberal judges, represented a victory for Shreveport-based abortion provider Hope Medical Group for Women in its challenge to the law of 2014. This measure required physicians performing abortions to have a formal affiliation sometimes difficult to obtain called “admission privileges” in a hospital located less than 48 kilometers from the clinic.

The administration of President Donald Trump supported Louisiana in this affair.

Abortion advocates had hoped that the Supreme Court, with its 5-4 conservative majority, would be willing to allow restrictions on abortion like those applied by Louisiana and other conservative states.

“Today’s decision is a bitter disappointment,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, chair of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List.

The decision, written by Liberal judge Stephen Breyer, marks the second time in four years that the court has ruled against a “privilege” requirement

In 2016, the court overturned a Republican-backed Texas law requiring admission of privileges and requiring clinics to have expensive hospital-grade facilities, concluding that the restrictions represented an unacceptable “ undue burden ” on health. ability of a woman to obtain an abortion. Breyer wrote that the two statutes are “almost word for word identical” and that, therefore, the court must achieve the same result.

There is sufficient evidence to conclude that the Louisiana measure “would put substantial obstacles in the way of women seeking an abortion in Louisiana,” added Breyer.

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Roberts dissented in the 2016 case, which was called Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, but voted with the Liberals in the Louisiana case based on the court’s tradition of adhering to its precedents, he said.

“I joined the dissent in Whole Woman’s Health and I continue to believe that the matter was not resolved well. The question today, however, is not whether Whole Woman’s Health was right or wrong, but whether it should be adhered to in order to decide this case, “Roberts wrote in a separate opinion.

At the same time, Roberts questioned part of the court’s analysis in the earlier decision, suggesting that he could side with his Conservative colleagues in future challenges to abortion restrictions.


As a result, the positive reaction to the decision of the abortion rights group was mitigated.

“We are relieved that Louisiana law has been blocked today, but we are worried about tomorrow,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who represented the Louisiana clinic.

Lawyers for Hope Medical Group said two of the three Louisiana abortion clinics should have closed if the law had come into force.

In a dissenting opinion, conservative judge Samuel Alito wrote that the Louisiana and Texas decisions are only similar because “the right to abortion recognized in this court’s decisions is used as a bulldozer to level the playing field impediments ”.

Roberts also sided with the Liberal judges in two other important decisions this month. One of them found that gay and transgender people are protected from discrimination in the workplace under federal civil rights law. The other blocked Trump’s attempt to end a program that protects hundreds of thousands of immigrants – often called “Dreamers” – who illegally entered the United States as children, from deportation.

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Several other cases involving legal challenges to abortion restrictions in other states are moving to judges who could provide other avenues for his conservative majority to reconsider access to the process.

Trump, seeking to be re-elected on November 3, promised in the 2016 presidential race to appoint judges who would quash the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the country. The Louisiana case marked the first major abortion dispute heard by the court since Trump appointed Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Neil Gorsuch in 2017 judges. The two ruled in favor of restrictions on abortion in Louisiana.

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Abortion remains a division problem in the United States as in many countries. The Christian conservatives – an important political group for Trump – are among those who oppose it the most. The Republican president, who had championed abortion rights for years, attended an anti-abortion march in January and said, “Unborn children have never had a better advocate in the White House.”

Abortion advocates have argued that restrictions such as the admission of privileges are intended to limit access to abortion and not protect the health of women, as proponents say. When the Supreme Court in 1992 upheld the Roe v. Wade, it has banned laws that place an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion.

Baton Rouge-based US district judge John deGravelles cited the precedent for undue burden when he overturned Louisiana law in 2016. After Louisiana appealed, the United States’ 5th Circuit Court of Appeals United, based in New Orleans, confirmed the law.

Source: Reuters

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