SCOTUS Will Review Abortion Law

Mar 2, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument on Wednesday, March 4, concerning the Louisiana state law that requires doctors performing abortions to have admission privileges at a state-authorized hospital within 30 miles of the abortion center. Currently in the state, all doctors at outpatient surgical facilities, except abortion centers, must have admitting privileges at a local hospital, even though the Louisiana abortion industry has a long record of substandard practices that jeopardize the health and safety of women. 

Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief at the High Court on behalf of Operation Rescue and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) in June Medical Services LLC v. Russo (formerly June Medical Services LLC v. Gee). As Liberty Counsel’s amicus brief outlines, Operation Rescue uncovered numerous instances of grossly unsafe practices at several abortion facilities in Louisiana, including at the Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge where two women died as a result of botched abortions and countless more were sent to the hospital. Had Louisiana’s Act 620 been in effect at the time, perhaps these two women would still be alive.

In June 2014, Louisiana passed Act 620, known as the “Unsafe Abortion Protection Act,” which requires “that every physician who performs or induces an abortion shall have active admitting privileges at a hospital that is located not further than thirty miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced.” The Louisiana Legislature enacted the bill with the intent to ensure the health and safety of the mothers of unborn children by guaranteeing all doctors have the mandatory competency and by establishing greater continuity of care. To have admitting privileges, the doctor must effectively be an approved practitioner at that hospital, which universally requires a higher level of background scrutiny. Louisiana’s purpose for such credentialing was to prevent the house of horrors-type scenario that arose in the Kermit Gosnell story. 

Several abortion facilities and doctors challenged the law, and while that challenge was pending in the district court, the High Court struck down a similar Texas law in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, finding that the Texas law imposed an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to have an abortion while bringing about no “health-related benefit” and serving no “relevant credentialing function.” The district court struck down Act 620 in 2017 based on that Supreme Court decision. However, the Court of Appeals upheld the law saying that it did provide a relevant medical benefit to women in Louisiana and that the law merely operated to require abortionists to conform to the same standards that other medical professionals in Louisiana must satisfy. 

Operation Rescue is a leading pro-life advocacy organization that has worked for decades to uncover abortion facility misconduct, expose it to the public, and bring the offenders to justice. The NHCLC represents more than 500,000 churches throughout the world that are deeply concerned about the medical care available to pregnant women and the unsafe conditions that were present in Louisiana prior to the passage of Louisiana Act 620. 

Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The ‘Unsafe Abortion Protection Act’ is a reasonable and constitutional method of protecting the health and safety of women in Louisiana abortion facilities. Requiring abortionists to conform to the same standards of care as every other medical professional in Louisiana is common sense and lawful. Until the day finally comes when unborn children are no longer violently killed by abortion, states must at least offer legislation that protects women from the unsafe, unlawful, grossly negligent, and filthy practices that result from abortionists like Kermit Gosnell,” said Staver. 

Liberty Counsel is a nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics. Liberty Counsel provides broadcast quality TV interviews via Hi-Def Skype and LTN at no cost.