U.S. Supreme Course Blocks Louisiana's Abortion Law
U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Louisiana’s Abortion Law
Lift Louisiana applauds the Court’s order allowing the state’s clinics to reopen
New Orleans, LA (March 4, 2016) – Lift Louisiana today applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s order to vacate the stay entered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Last week the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the Louisiana Attorney General’s request for an emergency stay of a lower court’s injunction that blocked a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at area hospitals. The Fifth Circuit’s emergency stay allowed the law to go into effect last Thursday, resulting in the temporary closing of one clinic and only two doctors in the state able to provide abortions.
The two clinics that continued to provide care were operating at severely diminished capacity — with only one physician to serve the number of patients ordinarily served by two physicians, and patient waiting lists growing with the overflow from shuttered clinics.
All this was occurring as the Supreme Court heard oral argument on a similar law passed in Texas in 2013 — a case in which the Fifth Circuit also issued an emergency stay of an injunction, which the Supreme Court overturned. The Supreme Court’s today states the order is “consistent with the Court’s action granting a stay in Whole Woman’s Health vCole“–the Texas case currently before the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court must recognize the serious impact that these laws have on the ability of patients to access abortions if there are too few doctors able to provide the procedure, too far to travel to a clinic or too costly to overcome all the barriers that currently exist in the state,” stated Michelle Erenberg, Executive Director of Lift Louisiana, a new initiative working to defend reproductive rights for all and engage advocates for reproductive health care across Louisiana.
The Supreme Court’s order is welcomed relief to the patients and clinic staff waiting for the Court to provide clarity about whether Louisiana’s clinics could remain open pending appeal. If the Fifth Circuit’s decision was allowed to stand, clinics would have continued to struggle to meet the needs of Louisiana’s women seeking abortion for months or years, during the appeals process.
Laws requiring admitting privileges have been passed in several states, including four of the five Gulf States. These laws are medically unnecessary and are aimed at restricting access to abortion care, not at improving quality of care. Abortion is extremely safe, with a less than 1 percent complication rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, in the exceedingly rare case of an emergency, Louisiana providers already have plans in place to protect patient health and safety. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) opposes medically unnecessary laws like those requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges.