WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the third time in just two weeks, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberals on the Supreme Court, this time ruling to invalidate a Louisiana abortion law that progressive advocates argued would have made it more difficult for women to access reproductive care.
Even with President Trump’s appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, two conservative judges, to the high court, some conservatives lost a key battle Monday in the effort to weaken abortion access.
“I am very disappointed, and I believe that this is a huge loss for the women of Louisiana, and for the women of this country. We do not even have a right to health care in this country and yet now women across the nation have substandard health care,” said Terrisa Bukovinac of Pro Life San Francisco, standing outside of the court Monday.
The Supreme Court’s decision means Louisiana can’t require abortion doctors to hold admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic. The court struck down a similar Texas law in 2016, when it decided the issue of admitting privileges was an undue burden on women.
“Today’s case affirms that ruling and makes clear again that states must have a reason for the types of restrictive and medically unnecessary laws that they’re passing or else those laws cannot stand,” said Heather Gatnarek, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.
This decision could be an indication of how the justices rule on challenges to Roe v. Wade. Previously, Roberts ruled to uphold the Texas law but changed course, now arguing it’s important to maintain precedent.
“I think it’s safe to say that Chief Justice Roberts has proven himself to be somewhat thoughtful, which is, of course, a strong characteristic in a Supreme Court justice and something that we need to see him for,” said Gatnarek.
“It’s not a setback for the pro-life generation because we are going to continue to press on for this election that will get us judges, that will rule according to the constitution,” said Tina Whittington of Students for Life of America as she stood outside the court.
As of 2019, public support for legal abortion remains high with 61 percent of Americans saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the Pew Research Center, but it has just 36 percent support among Kentuckians.
Gatnarek is optimistic the Supreme Court decision will guide the opinion in a case the ACLU of Kentucky has before the Sixth Circuit.
“The Kentucky law that we’ve challenged here requires that abortion clinics have a transfer agreement with a local hospital and a transport agreement with a local ambulance company, and in the state’s defense of this law, they claimed that such requirements are necessary to protect the health and safety of patients, but what’s actually true and what we were able to pursue at a district court at trial and what we have argued to the Sixth Circuit, where the case is now, is that those requirements actually have no benefit to patients health and safety whatsoever,” said Gatnarek.
Bowling Green Congressman Brett Guthrie (R) weighed in late Monday evening.
“Earlier this year I joined Rep. Scalise and my colleagues in an amicus brief in support of Louisiana’s pro-life law that would require abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. I am disappointed in today’s Supreme Court decision, which will put the health of women and babies at risk. I will continue to fight for the lives of the unborn,” he said in a statement.