VIDEO: [VICE NEWS] Strong statement from a Christian, black, female legislator. Earlier this year, Louisiana lawmakers took another step in efforts to chip away at abortion rights, nearing final passage of a bill that would ask voters to rewrite the state constitution to ensure it offers no protections for the procedure. VICE News interviews the architect of the bill – Democratic Rep. Katrina Jackson and Executive Director of the Louisiana Right to Life chapter, Ben Clapper – who also happens to be running new coalition known as the “Louisiana Pro-Life Amendment Coalition” and its “Love Life Vote Yes,” campaign. [May 31, 2019]
The court announced Friday it has decided to review June Medical Services LLC v. Gee, NPR reports. The case concerns Louisiana’s Act 620, which requires abortion centers to make arrangements for admitting women to hospitals within 30 miles in cases of life-threatening complications. The abortion industry’s attorneys argue the law is no different from the Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt; pro-lifers argue that not only was Hellerstedt wrongly decided, but that the Louisiana law is different from the Texas one.
In September, Judge Jerry Smith of the Fifth Circuit (which upheld the law) noted that while the laws may be similar, the Louisiana measure’s impact would be different as most Louisiana hospitals didn’t have the Texas requirement that doctors must see a minimum number of patients per year to qualify for admitting privileges. In February, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted (in a dissent to a ruling granting a stay of the law) that Act 620 had a 45-day transition period during which “both the doctors and the relevant hospitals” could have acted “expeditiously and in good faith to reach a definitive conclusion about whether those three doctors can obtain admitting privileges.”
A ruling is likely to be handed down during the already-contentious 2020 election year, in which abortion and judicial nominations will be major issues for both President Donald Trump and his Democrat opponent.
The case is likely to at the very least impact the Hellerstedt precedent, which has been used to invalidate a broad range of modest abortion regulations as “undue burdens” on women. It’s an open question whether a majority would take the opportunity to make a broader determination as to the underlying legitimacy of Roe v. Wade or Planned Parenthood v. Casey.