By Janice Podolski
ACE Health, Education, and Welfare Team Member
The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision establishing a woman’s right to seek an abortion is under attack in several states.
The Louisiana “Unsafe Abortion Protection Act,” enacted in 2014, requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30 mile radius of the abortion facility. Only 1 of 4 abortion practitioners in the state has the required admitting privileges.
In 2016, the SCOTUS ruled in a 5-4 decision that an almost identical bill from Texas was unconstitutional because it placed an undue burden on woman’s right to seek an abortion. In Texas, there were 10,000 requests for abortions per year. The law would have closed all but one clinic in the state.
In 2017, the Louisiana law was struck down using references to the SCOTUS decision in the Texas case. On appeal, the 5th Circuit Court reversed the lower court finding saying that, although only one provider would meet the admitting privileges requirement, the other three providers did not make good faith efforts to get those privileges. Admitting privileges at hospitals are easier to get in Louisiana than in Texas.
The recent SCOTUS (5-4) decision on the Louisiana law sent the case back to the 5th Circuit. In the Texas case, Justice Anthony Kennedy had joined the four liberal justices in finding the law unconstitutional, but he retired and Justice Brett Kavanaugh has taken his place. In this most recent decision on the Louisiana case, Kavanaugh wrote his own dissent again saying that the other three practitioners in Louisiana would be able to get admitting privileges. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch did not join his dissent. Justice John Roberts was the swing vote and joined the four liberal justices.
There are currently 16-20 more similar laws in several states pending appeal to the SCOTUS.
ACE Health, Education, and Welfare Team Member Janice Podolski is a retired faculty member from the Department of Pharmacology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. She was a registered nurse for fifty years and has a master’s degree in Nursing and Ph.D. in Physiology. She volunteers at Loaves & Fishes Community Services and with PADS in DuPage County.