Supreme Court temporarily blocks Louisiana abortion law
© WikiMedia (Brian Stansberry)
Supreme Court temporarily blocks Louisiana abortion law

The US Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily blocked a Louisiana abortion law that requires admitting privileges for doctors performing abortions.

The Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, Act 620, requires any physician providing abortion services in Louisiana to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the procedure.

Passed in 2014, Act 620 contains the same provisions as Texas law HB 2, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016. The case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, determined that such a law does not create enough benefit to justify the burden it imposes on women seeking an abortion.

In 2017 the district court judge struck down the Louisiana law after finding that it would place an undue burden on women’s access to abortions with no meaningful health benefits. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court decision and the full Fifth Circuit refused to rehear the case. In January the Center for Reproductive Rights filed an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court to prevent enforcement of the law, which was suppose to go into effect February 4, until the court granted a stay last week.

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 Thursday to block the law’s enforcement pending appeal to the Supreme Court.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh dissented from the decision to stay, relying on the appeals court’s finding that the law would not affect the availability of abortions in Louisiana. Currently, there are only four doctors who perform abortions at three abortion clinics in Louisiana. Kavanaugh argued that the primary question to determine the legality of the law is whether the three doctors without admitting privileges can obtain them. According to Kavanaugh, “if they can … then the new law would not impose an undue burden for purposes of Whole Woman’s Health … [and] if the three doctors cannot … then even the State acknowledges that the new law might be deemed to impose an undue burden.”