Will Supreme Court Let Admitting Privileges Law Take Effect?

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide in the coming days whether it will grant an emergency stay and at least temporarily delay the state of Louisiana from enforcing Louisiana 2014 Act 620, which requires abortion physicians to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

The court had given Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office until Thursday to respond to the petition, which it now has done.

Now we wait. The abortion facilities will need at least five of the nine justices to agree with them to stay the enforcement of the law. This critical ruling from the Supreme Court will have an impact this case, the state of Louisiana, and the nation as a whole as it sends a clearer picture of how the new justices will rule. All eyes are on Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.

Without a stay, the state should begin its process of enforcing the law early next week.

Act 620, authored by Rep. Katrina Jackson in 2014, passed the Louisiana Legislature by an 88-5 vote in the House of Representatives and a 34-3 vote in the Senate. It was immediately challenged in court and initially ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court judge.

Late last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the law requiring abortion physicians to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. In January, the abortion industry’s attempt to have the full court rehear the case failed by a vote of 9-6, and last Friday, 5th Circuit Judge Jerry Smith denied their motion for a stay pending the abortion facility’s petition to the Supreme Court.

Attorneys for the abortion industry filed a motion for an emergency stay with the U.S. Supreme Court over the weekend, just a day before the law was expected to go into effect. Regardless of whether the emergency stay is granted or not, the abortion attorneys have signaled their intention to file a full petition to the Supreme Court to review the Louisiana law.

Upon filing the response, Landry issued the following statement:

“Today, the Louisiana Department of Justice filed our opposition to an emergency application for a stay in regards to Act 620. As we have argued throughout this litigation, we firmly believe that Act 620 contains common-sense requirements that will protect the health and safety of Louisiana women. 

“The plaintiffs’ representation of the Fifth Circuit’s reasoning in upholding Act 620 is incomplete at best and misleading at worst. As the Fifth Circuit explained, one plaintiff physician unilaterally refused to submit documentation necessary for him to obtain admitting privileges. Another physician at the same clinic threatened to cease performing abortions if Act 620 goes into effect, albeit with shifting justification, and despite his already having admitting privileges that comply with Act 620. Plaintiffs refuse to grapple with those facts and instead engage in ad hominem attacks on highly respected Fifth Circuit judges.

“We will continue to fight to defend our laws and hope that the courts will eventually permit this case to be unsealed rather than continuing to allow evidence to be withheld from the public. I once again thank Representative Katrina Jackson for authoring this public safety legislation and Solicitor General Liz Murrill for preserving the Legislature’s intent.”

Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life, said the following after the abortion industry filed for an emergency stay: “It is disappointing that the abortion industry has again delayed enforcement of this law. Abortion facilities should not receive special loopholes opting them out of requirements that apply to all other outpatient surgical facilities. We look forward to the Supreme Court’s consideration of this common-sense law protecting the health and safety of women.”