Supreme Court Will Hear Case on Louisiana Pro-Life Law That Could Shut Down Dangerous Abortion Clinics

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 2, 2019   |   5:50PM   |   Washington, DC

The U.S. Supreme Court officially set a date to hear a high-profile abortion case out of Louisiana.

The Hill reports the case of June Medical Services v. Gee is scheduled for oral arguments on March 4 in front of the high court.

Both pro-life and abortion activists will be watching the case closely to see how the conservative-majority court will rule. The case will be a good indication of where Chief Justice John Roberts stands on abortion jurisprudence. Earlier this year, Roberts voted with the four liberal justices to block the enforcement of the Louisiana law. However, in 2016, he sided with the conservative justices on the court to uphold a similar Texas law.

The Louisiana law in question requires abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges for patient emergencies. Soon after it became law in 2014, the abortion facility Hope Medical Group for Women and the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights challenged it in court.

“All eyes must be on the Supreme Court come March,” Center for Reproductive Rights CEO Nancy Northup said in a statement Tuesday. “This case will have lasting consequences for abortion access across the country. Many states have been openly defying Supreme Court decisions in an effort to criminalize abortion.”

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar Texas law in 2016, arguing it burdened women’s access to abortion. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Louisiana law in 2018, saying it “does not impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women.”

The law could close shoddy abortion facilities that are not prepared to help patients suffering from emergency complications. If the law goes into effect, two of the three abortion facilities in Louisiana could close.

News broke this week that the abortion facility at the center of the case may be guilty of covering up the sexual abuse of young girls.

Last week, the Louisiana Department of Justice announced suspicions about alleged criminal activity that may have happened at the Hope Medical Group. Then on Tuesday, the Washington Times reported that those suspicions relate to abortion facilities failing to report rapes to authorities.

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“… a survey [the Louisiana Attorney General’s office] conducted showed that between 2013 and 2018 at least 66 abortions were performed on girls 11, 12 or 13 years old. The ages indicate that the girls were survivors of rape,” according to the report.

The Louisiana Department of Justice accused the Hope Medical Group abortion business of hiding evidence of criminal and professional misconduct from the Supreme Court as it challenges a state abortion clinic regulation law. Last week, the DOJ asked a federal court to unseal documents in the case so that state authorities can investigate.

The new criminal allegations add another element of concern to the already closely watched case.

According to the state prosecutors, the possible wrong-doing normally would prompt a criminal referral. However, a federal judge sealed documents in the case, making their ability to prosecute difficult, according to the department.

“As [Department of Justice] officers, if we learn of potentially criminal activity during litigation, we have a legal obligation to report it to criminal investigators and licensing authorities,” Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill said in a statement. “We also have a basic legal duty to protect the public from dangerous behavior when we learn of it. Shockingly, Hope Medical Group is refusing to unseal this evidence and permit us to carry out our legal duties.”

Ben Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, told LifeNews he is upset the abortion facility is hiding behind the court system.

“It is appalling that this Shreveport abortion business can hide their potentially illegal activity behind federal judges.  For years, abortion businesses across Louisiana have been found to be in violation of state law, placing the health and safey of women in jeopardy.  It is no surprise that the Attorney General’s office has uncovered even more dangerous activity. We ask the 5th Circuit to unseal these records so proper law enforcement can proceed in Louisiana,” Clapper said.

Hope Medical Group in Shreveport has a history of failing to meet basic health and safety standards. In 2010, state health department officials said they found “significant health and safety risks to clients” and recommended that its license be revoked; but a judge blocked the state from closing the facility. Hope Medical Group aborts unborn babies up to 16 weeks of pregnancy.

The Louisiana law, which passed in 2014, requires doctors who do abortions to have hospital admitting privileges for patient emergency situations. Pro-life Democrat state Rep. Katrina Jackson wrote the legislation.

The law was supposed to take effect earlier this year and could have closed abortion facilities that could not protect women’s health. But Chief Justice John Roberts joined the high court’s pro-abortion minority to prohibit the state from implementing the law, over the dissent of Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. However, Roberts joined the pro-life side when the Supreme Court ruled on a similar Texas law.