Supreme Court blocks Louisiana abortion bill

By Jesse Stiller
Staff Writer

On Feb. 1, the Supreme Court of the United States temporarily blocked a Louisiana abortion bill from taking effect, in an effort to buy more time to review the law and filings related to the case, according to NBC.

Protesters rally against the state law (YouTube).

Justice Samuel Alito, who handled the appeal for the case, said that some filings related to an application for a stay in the case were not completed in a timely manner and needed to be reviewed at a later date. The appeals court was ordered to not hand down any verdict on the case, according to NBC. 

The Louisiana bill, titled the “Unsafe Abortion Protection Act,” would require a doctor to have admitting and other certain privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where the abortion will be performed. The state argued that the law is a necessity in order to provide those who wish to have an abortion a higher level of physician competence, according to Fox 31 News.

The law, enacted in 2014,  has been marred in legal challenges. Although Judge John W. deGravelles of the Federal Court in Baton Rouge struck down the law in 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans reversed the decision in September 2018 and refused to rehear the decision in a 9-to-6 vote in January, according to The New York Times.

As reported by CNBC, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed an appeal with the Supreme Court after the September ruling. The organization is representing two doctors and an abortion clinic in the case. It is arguing that the law is a violation of a patient’s medical rights. Louisiana has clarified the law in a bulletin, outlining that the process is a 45-day verification process for granting admitting privileges. In the meantime, women seeking abortions are being turned away.

Vox reported that challengers to the law said that only one doctor in the entire state would be eligible to perform abortions. Challengers are also worried that the ruling with Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh would cause a potential undermining to Roe v. Wade.

Vox also referenced a similar case in 2016, where a law in Texas required abortion providers to have similar admitting privileges as hospitals. The court found the law medically unnecessary and an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to seek beneficial healthcare.

The stay was set to remain in effect until Thursday, Feb. 7, in which the Supreme court granted a temporary stay in the case, according to the New York Times. The ruling was a 5-4 decision with Chief Justice Roberts siding with the left-leaning justices to swing the vote. The stay does not permanently strike the law, and it is likely to be challenged again at the start of the next court term in October.

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