Supreme Court Strikes Down Abortion Law

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers have admitting privileges to hospitals, which mirrors a Wisconsin law passed in 2013.

By Frederica Freyberg, Marisa Wojcik

June 29, 2020

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U.S. Supreme Court Building

U.S. Supreme Court Building

The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a Louisiana abortion law that required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

The 5-4 ruling saw Chief Justice John Roberts vote with the four liberal justices on the court.

Lower courts had decided that the law would have reduced abortion services in the state to a single doctor in a single clinic in New Orleans.

The Louisiana law at issue before the high court mirrors a Wisconsin law enacted in 2013, requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. However, in 2015, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the Wisconsin law as an undue burden on women seeking an abortion.

The decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court on Louisiana’s law maintains the status quo for women’s access to abortions, meaning the 2015 decision to appeal Wisconsin’s similar law will not resurface.

As for today’s Supreme Court ruling, “This is great news for the people of Louisiana and our patients here. Abortion is safe and legal in Wisconsin,” Tanya Atkinson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said in a statement.

For its part, following the decision, Wisconsin Right to Life said, “We are frustrated with this ruling.

“Requiring admitting privileges is common sense and is required in most other medical practices,” wrote Kristen Nupson, the organization’s legislative director.

“Republicans around the country should use today as a rallying cry for November and beyond,” said state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. “We need more leaders willing to push pro-life legislation and support conservative justices willing to take pro-life stands.”

Fitzgerald and the Republican-led Legislature passed four abortion-related bills last session, including denying Planned Parenthood any Medicaid dollars, which were all vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers.

“Thankfully, today the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that was designed to close abortion clinics and deny women access to abortion, a right protected by the U.S. Constitution,” said U.S. Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin. “With that said, the Court’s decision does not undo the damage caused by decades of harmful attacks on women’s reproductive rights by Republican-led legislatures and the Trump administration.”

The Louisiana case was not seen as an inherent threat to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision of Roe v. Wade, making access to abortion a woman’s constitutional right. However, there are other cases currently in federal courts that may pose greater challenges for abortion rights pro-choice advocates.

Currently, Wisconsin still has a law on its books dating back to 1849 making abortion a felony offense. However, the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision overrules this law. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, Wisconsin’s 1849 law would take effect.

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