The Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling on a controversial abortion law on Monday, crushing the hopes of abortion opponents.
Voting 5-4, the High Court struck down a Louisiana law that required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The court said the law placed an undue burden on women.
Under the 2014 Louisiana law, abortion doctors must hold admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles (48km) of their practice. This would limit the number of providers in the state and violate a woman’s right to get an abortion.
The Louisiana law is virtually identical to a Texas law the court invalidated four years ago.
This is the first major abortion case ruling from the Supreme Court during the Trump presidency. Chief Justice John Roberts cast the fifth and decisive vote.
Had the law not been struck down and allowed to be enforced, at least two to three abortion clinics in Louisiana would be forced to close. Women needing abortions would have to wait longer and drive farther for the procedure.
Furthermore, only one doctor would likely be left to fill the demand for 10,000 women seeking abortions in the state each year.
In most states, doctors who perform abortions at clinics are not welcome at hospitals. They are politically unpopular because of ethical and moral issues. If hospitals were to grant abortion doctors admitting privileges, the hospitals would need to increase security.
Additionally, hospitals do not generally grant admitting privileges to doctors unless they regularly admit a significant stream of patients for treatment.
Monday’s decision was a cause for celebration for pro-abortion supporters and abortion providers.
Hope Medical Group for Women Administrator Kathleen Pittman said: “To say we’re elated hardly begins to come close to what we are feeling. I am celebrating today, but I’m worried about our future.”
Pittman’s group runs an abortion clinic in Shreveport.
Center for Reproductive rights President and CEO Nancy Northup echoed the sentiment. She said they are taking the Supreme Court victory but have no illusions that the fight is over, noting that opponents of abortion rights will continue to try to impose new requirements and regulations aimed at restricting access to abortion.
“It’s whack-a-mole over and over again,” Northup said.
Monday’s decision is controversial because it is likely to play a significant role in the upcoming election. Survey results revealed that the majority of Americans still approve the right to abortion.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tagged the Supreme Court ruling “unfortunate.”