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Gov. Edwards releases statement after Supreme Court blocks La. abortion clinic law

09 February 2019

Advocates have warned the case shows how women's reproductive rights in the United States hang by a "dangerously thin" thread.

Like the Texas law that the court previously struck down, the Louisiana law requires any doctor performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital; it also requires that clinics that provide abortions be, in effect, minihospitals, with everything from wide corridors to expensive equipment.

"While this particular ruling thankfully falls on the right side of history, it illustrates a sobering reminder: the thread that women's rights hang by is dangerously thin in so many places across the country", said Ilyse Hogue, the president of the advocacy group Naral Pro-Choice America.

Roberts was a dissenter in the 2016 case, but his vote on Thursday for now suggests the court is not retreating from that precedent. The death rate associated with colonoscopies is 40 times greater than that associated with abortion, according to the American Public Health Association.

A federal trial judge found the law unconstitutional in view of the Supreme Court's ruling in the Texas case.

The majority of five justices included Chief Justice John Roberts, who leans conservative but has become the closest thing to a swing vote in controversial cases since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who frequently broke ties on the divided court.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a dissent from granting the stay, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch. "They need to know that we're doing something different, that we're applying the law", Roberts said during an appearance this week at Tennessee's Belmont University.

The court on February 1 temporarily blocked the Lousiana law, which was due to go into effect on February 4, while the justices decided how to proceed. For instance, a convicted bank robber can appeal to a circuit court, but not on the basis that she didn't do it because she was in another city at the time of the robbery: That question has already been decided at the trial court level: She was at the bank.

In his dissent on the Louisiana case, Kavanaugh said the stay should be denied while three abortion doctors affected by the case seek admitting privileges at hospitals.

SCOTUS struck down a similar Texas law in 2016.

Finally, Smith rejected the district court's factual finding that the law would make access to abortion more hard for 70 percent of women seeking abortions in the state.

Trump had pledged during the campaign to appoint "pro-life" justices - judges who are opposed to abortion rights - and abortion opponents are hoping the more conservative bench will be more open to upholding abortion restrictions. It was a victory, although perhaps a temporary one, for abortion rights supporters. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans had upheld the 2014 law, which is meant to protect the health and lives of women who suffer complications from abortion. Similar measures are being pushed in MA and Rhode Island.

Late Thursday, the Supreme Court granted that stay by a 5-4 vote. A bill in Hawaii would expand the pool of health workers who can provide surgical abortion to include some nurses. Admitting privileges allow doctors to directly admit their patients into a hospital, bypassing what can be a time-consuming check-in process. Of the 11 active Republican appointees, only one, a George W. Bush appointee, voted to rehear the case.

Landry said that his office "will not waver" in defense of the law and will "continue to do all that we legally can to protect Louisiana women and the unborn".

The final vote was the order to keep Louisiana's admitting privileges law on hold while the court decides whether to add the case to its calendar for the term that begins in October.

Gov. Edwards releases statement after Supreme Court blocks La. abortion clinic law