SCOTUS temporarily blocks abortion regulation

February 11, 2019

Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States, in a 5-4 decision with Chief Justice John Roberts joining Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Ginsburg, issued a temporary stay of a Louisiana law protecting the health of women and children. This means that the law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where they perform abortions is temporarily blocked while the Supreme Court decides whether to hear the full case.

This legal battle takes place in the shadow of recent headlines concerning policy battles in New York and Virginia about late-term abortion and infanticide. While pro-life leaders in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate work to ensure every child born, no matter what the circumstances, is given a chance to live, this Louisiana state law shows how necessary it is to protect the health of women and children.

The Louisianan law was sponsored by a Democrat member of the Louisiana legislature and member of SBA List's National Pro-Life Women's Caucus. The law passed with overwhelming bipartisan majority support. And let's be clear about what it does—it protects the health of women and children from possible medical complications that could occur during an abortion procedure. 

Over the last few years, the law has been litigated, with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the law as constitutional. Now, the law is temporarily blocked while the Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case.

Disappointingly in recent months, the Supreme Court seems averse to hearing any case even tangentially related to abortion. Next up in this case, the Supreme Court will decide whether to accept this case on the merits, which would provide them an opportunity to rule more broadly on common-sense state abortion regulations like this one and the similar law in Texas that they struck down as unconstitutional when Justice Kennedy was still on the Court in 2016. If the Supreme Court decides not to take the case, then the 5th Circuit ruling upholding the Louisiana law as constitutional will be the final ruling. 

If the Supreme Court takes the case up, we will have the Court's first major abortion decision since Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh have joined the Court.

Palmer Williams

Palmer Williams serves as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the ERLC.  Palmer specializes in legal and policy analysis related to international human rights, sanctity of life, and government affairs. As a licensed attorney specializing in international law, she has extensive experience advocating for human rights on the international stage, … Read More