Q. If the Supreme Court already said the very same law was unconstitutional, why is this case before the Court now?
A. We asked the Court to step in and hear the case—since it had ruled on an identical law in the 2016 Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt case and declared Texas's admitting privileges law unconstitutional. The Center for Reproductive Rights is counting on the Supreme Court to uphold its own precedent from that case, throw out the Louisiana admitting privileges law, and protect people's constitutional right to abortion.
Q. I see a lot of articles about new anti-abortion laws. What's happening?
A. There is a lot going on at the state level to restrict abortion rights and access. Since 2011, anti-abortion politicians have pushed through nearly 450 restrictive state laws. Those laws have ranged from outright abortion bans as early as six weeks into pregnancy (before many even know they're pregnant), method bans, reason bans, mandatory delay periods, medically deceptive counseling, and much more. In many instances, politicians have been clear in their intent: to shut down abortion clinics and deny access to abortion care.
This is part of an ongoing, nationwide effort to regulate abortion out of existence—effectively banning abortion without directly touching the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.
Currently the Center for Reproductive Rights is fighting more than 20 cases against restrictive state laws. (For information on additional Center cases challenging anti-abortion laws, click here.)
Q. What's an admitting privileges law and what does it do?
A. Admitting privileges laws are a type of "TRAP" law—"targeted regulation of abortion providers"—which politicians have used in their attempts to shut down abortion clinics and deny access to abortion care.
Louisiana's Act 620 requires abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges—which allow a doctor to admit patients to a particular hospital and provide services in that hospital—within 30 miles of where they provide abortion care. But admitting privileges laws are not needed to ensure patient access to a hospital for emergency care. Federal law requires hospitals to treat any patient who presents in need of emergency care.
Hospitals can deny admitting privileges for any reason—and frequently deny privileges to abortion providers due to ideological opposition, fear of backlash, or because patients rarely need to be admitted for follow-up care, since abortion is a safe procedure with a complication rate that is a fraction of 1%. Medical experts including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) oppose mandatory admitting privileges laws.
Q. How do these laws harm people seeking abortion care?
A. Admitting privileges laws and other TRAP laws are designed to shut down abortion clinics by making it difficult and expensive to operate. Because of burdensome regulations, the number of clinics in Louisiana has declined from seven in 2011 to three today, and if the law were to go into effect, only one abortion provider would remain in the state. For the approximately 10,000 people each year seeking abortion care in Louisiana, this means waiting longer for appointments, traveling greater distances, and incurring more expenses—putting abortion care entirely out of reach for many.
"Admitting privileges are unnecessary for safe patient care and can be difficult or impossible to obtain for reasons unrelated to a clinician's competence; and imposing these unjustified burdens on abortion providers impedes women's access to quality, evidence-based medicine."