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Court blocks Louisiana law that would restrict abortion providers

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court blocked a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals Feb. 7.


In the court's 5-4 vote, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with four justices in favor of blocking this regulation for now. Since the decision was a brief order, it did not contain an explanation. The court is likely to hear a challenge to the law's constitutionality during its next term.


Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh sided with the state law, but Kavanaugh also wrote a dissent from the order, noting he would have preferred more information on the specific impact of the state's restrictions.


In his four-page dissent, he wrote that the main issue is whether the admitting-privileges requirement puts an "undue burden" on a woman's ability to have an abortion. He pointed out that the lower courts have reached different conclusions about the admitting privileges for the three doctors who perform abortions at the state's clinics.


Kavanaugh said the state's doctors and hospitals should first aim to resolve the admitting-privileges question and if they can't, the case should return to court. If they do resolve this issue and the doctors continue to perform abortions, he said the law would not impose an undue burden.


The court's order was issued near 9:30 p.m., just hours before the law was to go into effect, after being placed temporarily on hold by the Supreme Court Feb. 1.


Pro-life advocacy groups were displeased with the court's order, as was the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities.


"The fact that abortionists and their facilities cannot or will not meet basic health standards exposes the lie of their clever slogan that abortion is health care," Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, said in a Feb. 8. statement.


"The abortion industry's objection to such a reasonable law, and this court's decision to temporarily prevent it from going into effect, is further evidence of how abortion extremism actively works against the welfare of women," he said.


Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said that "ensuring that abortionists have admitting privileges is the very least the abortion industry can do to protect women."


"For a movement that purports to advocate for women's health, it is bizarre that the abortion industry opposes laws like this," she added in a Feb. 8 statement.


Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, said she was disappointed that a bare majority of the court "continued to stay the enforcement of a common-sense safety measure that will protect Louisiana's women from substandard abortion practitioners."


"Regardless of this disappointing ruling," Archbishop Naumann added in his statement, "the pro-life movement will continue to work and pray for the day when every legislature and court recognizes the brutal injustice of abortion — to women and their children alike — and our society sees abortion as unthinkable."






© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019