US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued a stay on Friday on behalf of the other justices in June Medical Services LLC., et al v. Gee, a case reviewing Louisiana Act 620, the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act.
Act 620 was passed in 2014 and required any doctor performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic where the procedure is being performed. The Louisiana Legislature enacted the bill with the intent to protect maternal health and the safety of the unborn. The present suit was filed in 2014 shortly before the law was to take effect.
In 2017 the district court judge struck down the law after finding that it would place an undue burden on women’s access to abortions with no meaningful health benefits. The Fifth Circuit after reviewing the decision noted that the decision was based on a Supreme Court decision in a separate Texas case and found that the facts here were not comparable to Texas where all but 8 of the state’s 40 clinics would have had to close. As such, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court decision and the full Fifth Circuit refused to rehear the case.
Alito stressed Friday that the stay should not be taken as showing any particular posture for or against the case, but is merely issued because the justices need more time to review the materials. That said, abortion advocates are concerned that with Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, the posture of the court in reviewing abortion cases may shift, particularly as Kennedy was in the majority when the Supreme Court struck down the almost identical Texas law.