Center for Reproductive Rights Files Opening Brief in Abortion Case Before the Supreme Court

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Identical abortion issue decided by Supreme Court in 2016
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(PRESS RELEASE)—Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed its opening brief before the United States Supreme Court in June Medical Services v. Gee—the first abortion rights case to be heard by the Court since Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were confirmed. In the case, the Center is challenging a Louisiana law (Act 620) that is identical to a Texas law struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016.

Act 620 requires physicians who provide abortion care to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of where they provide care. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt — the 2016 case brought by the Center the Supreme Court struck down an identical Texas law, holding that admitting privileges have no medical purpose and present an unconstitutional “undue burden” on the right to abortion.

“A properly functioning legal system depends on certain basic principles that are absolutely critical for respect of the courts as the true guardians of the rule of law,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The facts, the law, and the Constitution have not changed since an identical law was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016. We are relying on the Court to reaffirm that decision and preserve abortion access for women in Louisiana and across the country.”

Admitting privilege requirements for outpatient abortion providers are opposed by major medical groups— such as the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists— as medically unnecessary.  Abortion is a safe procedure with an extremely low major complication rate—lower than that of other outpatient procedures like colonoscopies. Hospitals frequently deny admitting privileges to doctors who provide abortions for reasons ranging from ideological opposition to the fact that too few of their patients will ever need hospital care.

Already, Louisiana ranks among the lowest in the country in terms of abortion access— more than 92% of Louisiana parishes have no abortion clinic. Since 2001, the number of abortion clinics in Louisiana has fallen from 11 to three as the state has imposed a slew of onerous requirements for abortion providers. There are nearly one million women of reproductive age in the state.

Louisiana ranks 48th among states when it comes to the health of women and children, and maternal mortality has increased 28% in Louisiana since 2016. The Center for Reproductive Rights has sued Louisiana more than 25 times since the organization was founded in 1992.

The Center originally filed this case — June Medical Services v. Gee — in August 2014. Plaintiffs are a women’s health center and doctors, suing on behalf of their patients. Julie Rikelman and Travis J. Tu are lead counsel for plaintiffs, along with co-counsel O'Melveny & Myers LLP.

The full brief is available here.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Kelly Krause; kkrause@reprorights.org; 917-637-3649