By Dave Andrusko
In a brief order, the Supreme Court Friday temporarily stopped Louisiana from enforcing its law that requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The unsigned order came two days after the justices heard oral arguments in a case from Texas that raised that issue (Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt) and another that required abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.
In early February U.S. District Judge John deGravelles found that the admitting privileges requirement would place an “undue burden” on Louisiana women seeking an abortion. He issued a preliminary injunction preventing the law from being enforced against the clinics involved in the challenge: Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Bossier City Medical Suite in Bossier City, and Causeway Medical Clinic in Metairie.
However, on February 24, an unanimous three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the judge’s order. According to Louisiana Right to Life, the panel accepted all of the state’s arguments–that the district court did not follow 5th Circuit precedent; ignored the state’s unrebutted evidence that more than 90 percent of Louisiana women would still be within 150 miles of a provider; and ignored the secretary’s determination that “Dr. Doe 2’s” privileges at Tulane were sufficient.
It was this ruling that the High Court temporarily blocked.
“The Louisiana and Texas laws have been on similar trajectories,” the New York Times’ Adam Liptak explained. “The high court said it was granting the Louisiana stay ‘consistent with the court’s action’ in the Texas litigation. The Supreme Court last summer prevented parts of the Texas law from going into effect while that case continued, so Friday’s move may have been made to maintain the status quo until the court announces the Texas ruling.”
Pro-abortionists saw it otherwise. Nancy Northup, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights which challenged Texas’ HB 2 in court last week, said in a statement that the Supreme Court had again “stepped in to preserve women’s ability to get the constitutionally protected health care they need.”
By contrast, “We disagree with the court’s unexplained decision and are disappointed,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry “We remain confident that we will prevail on the merits.”
Added Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life
“We are disappointed that the Supreme Court has blocked our common-sense admitting privileges law until further appeals in the 5th Circuit, and ultimately, the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision coming in June on a similar law in Texas. Abortion physicians shouldn’t have exceptions to safety standards, and we hope the Supreme Court will ultimately decide to protect Louisiana’s right to enact appropriate regulations to protect the health of its citizens.”
The other portion of Texas’s HB 2 pro-abortionists challenged requires abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.