Three years ago, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that provisions in Texas House Bill 2 posed an undue burden on people seeking abortion care in Texas. HB2, which included a law requiring any clinician performing abortion care to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic was deemed unconstitutional. Despite this ruling, SCOTUS will once again hear an admitting privileges case on March 4, 2020. June Medical Services, LLG v. Russo, comes out of Louisiana and is identical to HB2. With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy (the decisive fifth vote in Whole Woman’s Health) and the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, this case has the potential to profoundly affect the future of abortion access in the United States.
The Supreme Court will also consider whether clinicians, providers, and abortion clinics have third-party standing – the right to serve as plaintiffs and fight for their patients in court. This issue is critical because nearly all abortion cases today are brought forth by medical providers; without third-party standing, only patients who are pregnant at the time would be allowed to be plaintiffs in any legal action challenging restrictive laws. This would make it even more difficult to challenge the unjust laws that deny people their fundamental right to an abortion.
Should SCOTUS uphold Louisiana’s admitting privilege requirement, all but one clinic in the state would close, denying abortion access to nearly 10 million people of reproductive age. Anti-abortion groups and politicians could be emboldened to pass even more restrictive and medically unnecessary laws, essentially cutting away at our constitutional right to abortion care.
Thanks to the advocacy of many of our Network members, the American Academy of Family Physicians joined other professional medical associations like the American Medical Association and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in opposing this law. Check out the amicus briefs here.
We know that the admitting privileges law is just one of many Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws that are designed to decimate access to abortion care and prevent clinicians from providing compassionate, quality abortion care. We also know that laws like the one in Louisiana disproportionately affect rural communities, low-income patients, and communities of color. That’s why we are joining forces with the Center for Reproductive Rights and other reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations to rally in DC on the day of oral arguments.
Abortion isn’t a right if you can’t access it. Join the rally on the steps of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, March 4th, the day of oral arguments. The rally will begin at 8am. Let us know if you’ll be there!