Today, the United States Supreme Court struck down a draconian restriction on access to abortion enacted by the state of Louisiana, holding that it served no medical benefit and unduly restricted access to abortion care. The Louisiana law at issue – which requires abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges – is identical to a law in Texas that the Supreme Court found unconstitutional just four years ago. Today’s ruling in June Medical Services v. Russo sends a clear message that states cannot simply ignore the law.
“Today’s decision is a relief to thousands of women in Louisiana and millions of women across this country whose fundamental right to reproductive autonomy remains secure for now,” said Imani Rupert-Gordon, NCLR Executive Director. “But the very fact that this case had to reach the Supreme Court is a sobering reminder of the relentless attacks on reproductive freedom and the need to elect officials who will safeguard that critical freedom.
“Today’s decision is not only a win for the rule of law, it is a win for the common-sense principle that health regulations should be about just that, health and not ideology,” said Julianna S. Gonen, Esq., NCLR Federal Policy Director. “The Supreme Court saw Louisiana’s sham law for what it was – a backdoor way to make abortion care inaccessible to almost everyone in that state. When access to abortion is restricted for no good reason the impact is felt most severely by those without the resources to leave their state and go elsewhere for this essential care. Due to systemic racism and poverty, that almost always means Black and brown communities suffer the most. We applaud the abortion providers in Louisiana who stood up for the rights of their patients and took their fight for the bodily autonomy and dignity of the people in their state all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights filed an amicus brief in June Medical Services v. Russo on behalf of 24 LGBTQ organizations urging the Court to invalidate the Louisiana law. NCLR and its amici noted the disturbing parallel between states seeking to evade the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling and those looking to get around the 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision that reaffirmed the right to abortion.