Update: The United States Supreme Court issued a temporary administrative stay on February 1, preventing the admitting privileges law from going into effect today, February 4. The Court now has until Thursday, February 7 to respond to our emergency motion.
01.25.19 – Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed an emergency motion with the United States Supreme Court asking it to block a flagrantly unconstitutional Louisiana law. Set to go into effect on February 4, the law—which requires that physicians performing abortions have admitting privileges at a local hospital—has no medical justification and is designed to shutter most of the state’s abortion clinics.
This law is one of the hundreds of laws that have been passed at the state level nationwide since 2010 as part of an orchestrated, national anti-abortion strategy intended to undermine, if not nullify, the guarantees of Roe v. Wade.
We’ve been through this exact battle before—a nearly identical Texas law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Center’s 2016 case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The Court ruled that the law “provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”
In the Fifth Circuit’s refusal to rehear our case just last week, one of the dissenting judges wrote that the court’s ruling “is in clear conflict with the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, holding unconstitutional an almost identical Texas admitting privileges requirement.” Judge James L. Dennis also spoke to “the devastating effects on women’s rights to abortion that will result from [this] admitting-privileges requirement.”
Requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges provides no increased benefits for the approximately one in four women who will need an abortion at some point in her life. Furthermore, privileges can be impossible to obtain due to individual hospital policies or biases against abortion providers for reasons unrelated to the doctors’ qualifications.
Admitting privileges laws are meant to advance the unconstitutional objective of denying women safe, legal abortion under the phony pretext of protecting their health. This law will prevent many women in Louisiana from receiving this constitutionally guaranteed care and will force others to travel hundreds of miles to get the abortion care she may need.
“This law will disproportionately impact low-income women. Socioeconomic status and geography should never dictate a woman’s ability to exercise her fundamental human rights,” says Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
We will take every legal recourse to ensure that this unconstitutional law does not take effect.