Several prominent medical and legal groups are wading into abortion politics this winter by arguing against a Louisiana law that requires abortion facilities to have hospital admitting privileges for patient emergencies.
NPR reports the American Bar Association (ABA), the American Medical Association (AMA), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American Academy of Pediatrics and other groups recently filed amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in opposition to the law.
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 are watching the case closely to see how the conservative-majority Supreme 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 requires abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges so that they can better treat patients suffering from medical emergencies. Soon after it became law in 2014, the abortion facility Hope Medical Group for Women, which is owned by June Medical Services, and the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights challenged it in court.
This month, leading medical groups sided with abortion activists in their brief to the court, claiming the law is unnecessary. They also claimed the law could harm women by restricting access to abortion.
“Laws regulating abortion should be evidence-based and supported by a valid medical justification. Because laws requiring clinicians who provide abortions to have local admitting privileges are neither, this court should not allow them to stand, regardless of the state from which they originate,” the AMA, ACOG and others wrote in their brief.
Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill refuted the claims in a statement to NPR, saying the law would protect women from unsafe abortion facilities.
“Women deserve better than incompetent [abortion] providers that put profits over people,” Murrill said.
Recently, the ABA filed a separate amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to follow the precedent set by previous justices. The legal group argued that the Louisiana case “raises significant concerns about adherence to basic rule of law principles,” according to NPR.
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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 may close.
News broke last week that the abortion facility at the center of the case may be guilty of covering up the sexual abuse of young girls.
In November, the Louisiana Department of Justice announced suspicions about alleged criminal activity that may have happened at the Hope Medical Group. A few days later, the Washington Times reported that those suspicions relate to abortion facilities failing to report rapes to authorities.
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 the abortion clinic regulation law. State prosecutors asked a federal court to unseal documents in the case so that authorities can investigate.
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.
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.