President Donald Trump’s administration defended states’ rights to protect women and unborn babies through abortion restrictions Thursday in an amicus brief.
The National Law Journal reports the U.S. Justice Department filed the brief in the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case June Medical Services v. Gee, which challenges a Louisiana abortion clinic regulation. The law requires abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges for patient emergencies.
Abortion activists claim the law creates an “undue burden” on access to abortion because abortionists struggle to find hospitals willing to grant them admitting privileges, but the Trump administration refuted the claim in its brief to the Supreme Court, Bloomberg reports.
U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco said Louisiana abortion providers were not diligent in seeking to comply with the law. He said one provider only applied for admitting privileges at one of the nine area hospitals.
“By failing to diligently pursue such alternatives, [the abortionists] themselves are responsible for any resulting obstacles to a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion,” Francisco wrote.
The Trump administration also argued that June Medical Services, which owns the Hope Medical Group abortion facility, does not have standing to sue and pointed to a “potential conflict” of interests between the abortion facility and its patients.
“Medical providers … have no fundamental right of their own to perform abortions, let alone to be free from health and safety regulations when doing so,” Francisco continued.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case in March.
In 2016, the court struck down a similar Texas law, 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.”
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A group of more than 200 federal lawmakers also submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on Thursday, asking it to reconsider Roe v. Wade.
“Amici respectfully suggest that the court’s struggle—similar to dozens of other courts’ herculean struggles in this area—illustrates the unworkability of the ‘right to abortion’ found in Roe and the need for the Court to take up the issue of whether Roe and [Planned Parenthood v. Casey] should be reconsidered and, if appropriate, overruled,” they wrote.
At the center of the case is Hope Medical Group, one of three abortion facilities in Louisiana. In December, a Fifth Circuit Court ruling indicated the abortion facility may have covered up the sexual abuse of young girls and one of its abortionists may be performing abortions that lead to second-trimester babies being born alive.
In November, the Louisiana Department of Justice announced suspicions about alleged criminal activity that may have happened at the Hope Medical Group. It accused the Hope Medical Group of hiding evidence of criminal and professional misconduct from the U.S. Supreme Court as it challenges an abortion clinic regulation law. The state asked the Fifth Circuit to unseal documents in the closely-watched case.
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.
If enforced, the Louisiana law could close shoddy abortion facilities that are not prepared to help patients suffering from emergency complications.
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.