OCT. 4, 2019
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments in the case of Louisiana Act 620, the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, which requires abortion physicians to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. In February the Court granted the Shreveport abortion facility’s emergency stay request after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the law last fall.
The Supreme Court granted writs of certiorari this morning and consolidated the cases June Medical Services, et al v. Gee, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Health, and Gee, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Health v. June Medical Services, et al.
The abortion industry believed the Court should have struck down the case without hearing oral arguments, citing that the Court had already struck down a similar Texas law three years ago. In today’s decision, the Supreme Court rejected that option, deciding instead to review the case in full.
In accepting Gee v. June Medical Services, the Supreme Court will also consider the issue of third-party standing, whereby abortion providers claim to represent their patients in a challenge to a law, even though no actual patient or pregnant woman has challenged the common sense safety standard.
Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director for Louisiana Right to Life, said: “We look forward to the Supreme Court reviewing Louisiana’s 2014 Unsafe Abortion Protection Act. Abortion facilities should not be provided loopholes when it comes to health and safety standards that apply across the board to outpatient surgical facilities. We are also pleased that the Supreme Court has accepted Louisiana’s challenge on third-party standing. Substandard physicians and for-profit providers unable to meet health requirements should not be able to hide behind their supposed patients when making legal claims against a law. We applaud Attorney General Jeff Landry and Solicitor General Liz Murrill for their tremendous work, and we look forward to Solicitor General Murrill arguing this case on behalf of Louisiana.”
Dorinda Bordlee of the Bioethics Defense Fund and a consulting attorney to Louisiana Right to Life explained the following about the 2016 Hellerstedt decision: “While the Texas law, like the Louisiana law, required physicians at abortion facilities to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, the Texas law also required abortion facilities to meet strict ambulatory surgical center requirements. Louisiana’s law does not include the ambulatory surgical center requirement, and the facts of Louisiana’s different geography and demographics necessitate a different result.”
Bordlee continued, “The Supreme Court’s review of the ability of abortion providers with histories of troubling health and safety violations being able to challenge state safety laws under the principle of ‘third party standing’ is of momentous legal importance. If the Court limits that practice, the volume of baseless litigation against abortion-related laws would significantly decline. If Louisiana succeeds in its ‘third party’ issue, real women would have to sue, not abortionists with a pecuniary interest.”
Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe), a Louisiana attorney who authored the 2014 law, said, “Together with my colleagues, our Legislature passed the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act by a wide bipartisan margin to protect the health and safety of women. We encourage the Supreme Court to overturn, or at least, alter or clarify, the Hellerstedt decision, allowing a state to enforce its duly enacted laws aimed at protecting the health and safety of its citizens. Abortion has known medical risks, and the women of this state who are often coerced into abortion deserve to have the same standard of care required for other surgical procedures.”