Louisiana Abortion Law: Common Sense for Life
October 10, 2019
By Katherine Beck Johnson
When the Supreme Court agreed to hear June Medical Services v. Gee late last week, it took up what could turn into the biggest abortion case in years. It is certainly the biggest one since Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh have been on the bench.
In taking Gee, the current justices could be signaling their willingness to allow states to regulate abortion for women's health and safety. The first question in Gee involves Louisiana's requirement that abortionists have admitting privileges at a hospital close to the abortion clinic. The second question is whether abortion providers, rather than women, can even bring suit challenging abortion regulations.
Tony Perkins hosted Louisiana's Attorney General, Jeff Landry, on Washington Watch to discuss Louisiana's common-sense law. Attorney General Landry said, "this [pro-life law] is about women's health and a double standard that the Court has allowed to begin to prevail around the country when it comes to the healthcare of women." Louisiana's law requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. The goal of the law is to protect the health and safety of Louisiana women by ensuring that physicians at abortion facilities can treat patients at a local hospital in the event a woman is harmed during an abortion. This law brings abortion providers in line with mainstream medical standards in the state. Attorney General Landry noted, "In Louisiana, a woman who goes to any other health care clinic receiving any other procedure under which she's bodily sedated, that doctor is required to have admitting privileges. So why wouldn't we require doctors at abortion clinics have the same?" Abortion providers can't claim that abortion is a routine medical procedure yet argue that they do not have to abide by the same medical standards as other outpatient surgical centers.
Texas passed a similar bill that required admitting privileges, along with other abortion regulations, that the Supreme Court struck down in Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016. In Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court held that Texas's admitting privileges requirement created an undue burden on abortion because it led to the closure of many abortion clinics. The Fifth Circuit upheld Louisiana's regulations and distinguished them from Texas's regulations in Hellerstedt. The Fifth Circuit found that unlike in Texas, many of the abortionists in Louisiana could receive admitting privileges. Many of the abortionists just "sat on their hands" rather than diligently attempt to receive admitting privileges. In addition, the Fifth Circuit held that Louisiana provided evidence that Texas had not: Louisiana's requirement promoted women's health and safety. For example, Louisiana hospitals have more intense and rigorous background checks whereas the abortion clinics do not even perform criminal background checks. Thus, the Fifth Circuit held that Louisiana's reasonable health requirement was constitutional.
The abortion providers who advocate against basic health standards do not have women's best interest in mind, and therefore should not be permitted to represent these women in court. This is the second question the Supreme Court granted cert to decide in Gee: Do abortion providers automatically have standing to bring a case against any abortion regulation? If Louisiana wins, there would be large implications for abortion litigation. Most of the landmark abortion cases, such as Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt, were brought by the abortion industry, not women. Attorney General Landry highlighted the double standard when it comes to abortion providers in court. He said, "we treat the abortion industry differently than we treat all other parties when they come before the court. In almost any other matter the court requires that the party before them is actually aggrieved party." Yet, abortion providers, not women, are the ones to bring suit against sensible regulations that protect the health and safety of women.
Why do health standards for women aggrieve abortion providers? The abortion industry argues for less medical and safety protections for women under the facade of women's advocacy. The Supreme Court should recognize that abortion providers do not represent women's best interests and should affirm the Fifth Circuit's holding that Louisiana's regulations are constitutional. The reasonable admitting privileges requirement allows continual care in the hospital for women who suffer from botched abortions. The Supreme Court should rule that Louisiana and other states are able to protect women's health without the abortion industry interfering for their own political and financial profit.