Could This Case Threaten Roe v. Wade?

For years, anti-choice politicians have used state Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws to limit access to abortion care under the guise of protecting women’s health. Then, in a 2016 ruling on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court called out TRAP laws for what they really are: an unconstitutional attempt to undercut the reproductive rights that Roe v. Wade protects.

Thanks to this ruling, a number of TRAP laws have been overturned in recent years. But a Louisiana TRAP law that would close all but one of the state’s abortion clinics and potentially threaten the integrity of Roe v. Wade could now go before the Supreme Court.

Louisiana Act 620, which the Supreme Court already temporarily blocked from taking effect, would require doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. This makes it nearly identical to the Texas regulations already ruled unconstitutional in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In the court’s opinion in that case, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that “the admitting privileges requirement provides few if any health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions and constitutes an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to do so.”

In other words, the law isn’t really about keeping women healthy. It’s about denying them access to abortion.

Given the similarities between Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt and Louisiana Act 620, it’s surprising that the Fifth Circuit ruled to uphold the Louisiana law — particularly when the Supreme Court was so clear about the undue burden TRAP regulations place on women seeking abortions in Texas.

In his dissenting opinion, Fifth Circuit Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham pointed out the discrepancy, writing, “I am left to conclude that, viewed objectively, there is an invidious purpose at play. …  Act 620 was enacted to frustrate a woman’s right to choose.”

I suspect this attempt to “frustrate a woman’s right to choose” goes far further than an intention to enact one state law. For years, the strategy of anti-choice advocates has been to push state legislation to the Supreme Court, hoping one day the court would become more conservative and use the opportunity to issue a ruling that weakens or negates Roe v. Wade.

The Supreme Court now is far more conservative than it was when it heard Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016. The question is will Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch respect precedent and confirm the right to safe, legal abortion, or will they succumb to pressure from anti-choice advocates?

If the Supreme Court upholds Louisiana’s law, it could mean serious trouble ahead for Roe v. Wade and its protection of abortion access. This is a case to watch closely.

25 comments

Toni W
Toni W23 days ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W23 days ago

TYFS

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Martha P
Martha P24 days ago

Thank you

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Lisa M
Lisa M24 days ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M24 days ago

Thanks.

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Tom M
Tom M24 days ago

The religious right will continue to chip away at our lives until our lives are unrecognizable. Won't be the first time a nation is brought down by religious zealots.

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Debbi W
Debbi W25 days ago

I really hope Supreme Court does NOT uphold Louisiana’s law. That would be disastrous. We MUST get more moderate SCOTUS members. Those extremists will alter our government for decades!

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Anne Moran
Anne Moran25 days ago

Resistance from anti abortionist will continue to weigh heavily on the supreme court.. - I bet they will cave, now that these two judges are part of SCOTUS.. - Choose life...

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Kay B
Kay B25 days ago

It's really all about keeping babies healthy. Lives are depending on this.

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Alea C
Alea C25 days ago

The deck is stacked against women seeking abortions now that Trump has rammed through those two big time pro lifers. This SCOTUS can't wait to overturn Roe v Wade.

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