April 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court blocked Louisiana from enforcing a law that required basic health and safety standards for abortion facilities back in February, and now one of the affected abortion centers is calling on the court to issue a ruling on the merits of the case.
In September, a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in favor of Act 620, the state’s law requiring abortion centers to make arrangements for admitting women to hospitals within 30 miles in cases of life-threatening complications, and ordered a lawsuit against the law dismissed, reversing a previous ruling by a federal judge in Baton Rouge. Attorneys representing abortionists appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing the law is no different from the Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
In February, a majority of the justices granted their application for a stay, delaying the law from taking effect pending a future ruling on the merits of the case. Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joined conservatives Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito in indicating they would have rejected the stay and let the law take effect, and Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s liberal wing.
This Wednesday, Hope Medical Group in Shreveport and two unidentified abortionists filed an appeal asking the Supreme Court to rule the law unconstitutional, the Associated Press reported. They claimed the Louisiana law is so similar to the Texas law that the justices shouldn’t even bother to hold oral arguments on the matter.
Supporters of admitting-privilege requirements dispute both that the Louisiana and Texas laws are indistinguishable, and that SCOTUS ruled correctly when it originally struck down the latter.
In September, Fifth Circuit Judge Jerry Smith noted that while the laws may be similar, its impact would be different as most Louisiana hospitals didn’t have the Texas requirement that doctors must see a minimum number of patients per year to qualify for admitting privileges. In February, Kavanaugh noted that the law had a 45-day transition period during which “both the doctors and the relevant hospitals” could have “expeditiously and in good faith to reach a definitive conclusion about whether those three doctors can obtain admitting privileges.”
Despite 2016’s Hellerstedt accepting pro-abortion claims that admitting privileges are medically-unnecessary burdens, 32 nonpartisan medical associations – including the Federation of State Medical Boards and National Committee for Quality Assurance, and covering fields from surgery and anesthesiology to dermatology and radiology – affirmed at the time that admitting privileges are a legitimate medical standard.
Further, the pro-abortion justices ignored the plaintiffs’ own record of health and safety violations. Last year, a Texas Department of State Health Services report identified numerous offenses at Whole Woman’s Health from 2011 to 2017, including rusty equipment, failing to properly disinfect and sterilize instruments between use, lacking proper written operation procedures, improper storage of hazardous chemicals, unsanitary surfaces, failing to follow up with patients, holes in the floor, and more.
Roberts siding with the liberal justices alarmed and angered pro-lifers in February, raising doubts both about the law’s ultimate survival and questions whether President Donald Trump’s appointees would be enough to deliver a pro-life Supreme Court majority after all. But others held out hope.
“While we are disappointed the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act will not go into law immediately, we do look forward to the potential of the law going into effect later this year after the Court either denies the petition for certiorari, or upon a ruling in Louisiana’s favor after full briefing on the merits,” Louisiana Right to Life executive director Benjamin Clapper said after the stay was granted.
The AP noted that SCOTUS is likely to decide whether to hear the case before June, with oral arguments taking place in fall and setting the stage for an election-season ruling in spring 2020.