It’s up to the Supreme Court. Which is scary!
Women in my native state of Louisiana could soon lose access to legal abortion services. While Roe v. Wade, the famous 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States, would (at least for the time being) stay intact, women who live in Louisiana may become the first in the U.S. not to have legal abortion access in their state of residence. Potential abridgement of this right depends on the outcome of an upcoming Supreme Court case.
There are currently only three abortion providers in the state (one in New Orleans, one in Baton Rouge and one in Shreveport). Ninety-five percent of the Parishes in Louisiana do not have an abortion clinic.
Abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures for women in the United States. Fewer than 0.05% of women obtaining abortions experience a complication. Despite that fact, Louisiana lawmakers have passed dozens of progressively more restrictive laws on abortion access over that last four decades. They erroneously claim that these laws are aimed at “protecting the health of women and the lives of the unborn”.
According to a report by CBS News, the Supreme Court announced it would hear oral arguments for June Medical Services v. Gee on March 4, 2020, devoting an entire day to it. At the center of the case is Act 620, Louisiana’s “Unsafe Abortion Protection Act,” a 2014 state law not currently in effect. It is similar to a Texas law that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016. Louisiana’s proposed law requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital no more than 30 miles away. If the law is allowed to be implemented, all of Louisiana’s abortion clinics likely would close.
It is significant that June Medical Services v. Gee will be the first abortion-related case to be heard by the Supreme Court since the appointments of conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett (“I like beer and drunk women”) Kavanaugh.
Recently, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), the law firm representing June Medical, filed its opening brief, the first of four to be filed ahead of oral arguments. CRR outlined its argument against Act 620, identifying two reasons why it believes the regulation should be struck down by the high court. First, CRR argued that since the Supreme Court struck down the same type of restriction in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016, Louisiana’s restriction should also be deemed unconstitutional. Second, the law in question “is unconstitutional even assuming the burdens here are less than in Whole Woman’s Health,” according to the brief. Supporters of the law say the regulation would assist with “continuity of care” in the event of an emergency.
Currently, only two abortion doctors in the state have been successful in gaining the special designation, despite multiple attempts, according to clinic administrators and court documents. Earlier this month, when the Supreme Court announced it would take up the case, it was believed that the two doctors would become the state’s only legal providers and Louisiana would be down to one clinic.
However, CBS News reported that one of the two doctors with admitting privileges, who goes by Dr. John Doe 5 in court documents, stopped providing abortions about a year ago, according to sources familiar with the matter. The other, who goes by John Doe 3, has said he would retire if the Supreme Court holds up the law, making him what he has described as the “last man standing.”
That retirement would close Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, effectively ending legal abortion in Louisiana. The result would be what many pro-abortion rights advocates have long feared — that even without overturning Roe v Wade, abortion could be regulated out of existence.
“It would be devastating for all of us,” said Kathleen Pittman, an administrator at Hope. “And not just the staff but for the women that we generally serve, not just in North Louisiana but South Louisiana, East Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi. We have patients coming to us from Oklahoma. It would be devastating for all of them.”
In court documents, Dr. John Doe 3 said becoming the last abortion provider in Louisiana “would make me a target for those who are radicals who are opposed to abortion. All they have to do is eliminate me as they have Dr. Tiller and some other abortion providers around the country, just, you know, assassinate me and that’s all they have to do.” (Dr. George Tiller was the Medical Director of the Women’s Health Care Services in Wichita, KS who was assassinated in 2009.)
Dr. John Doe 3 testified in the case under a pseudonym because he was “fearful for [his] safety,” according to court documents, and declined to be interviewed by CBS News for the same reason.
In an interview with CBS News, the author of the law, Representative Katrina Jackson, denied the requirement was intended to shut down abortion access and called the regulation “common-sense women’s health care.”
But providers in the state — and medical groups like the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology — disagree.
“He’s been targeted at home and his primary office,” Pittman said. “There’s been veiled threats there, there’s constant online harassment through social media. If all the other clinics were to close, it would be more than anybody could ask of him to continue the work.”
Pro-abortion rights activists are also concerned that if Louisiana law is allowed to go into effect, it would provide a road map for other states interested in eliminating abortion without overturning Roe v. Wade.
“If the Supreme Court does not strike down this bogus Louisiana law, you are going to see anti-[abortion] activists double down, triple down on these types of restrictions,” T.J. Tu, the lead counsel arguing against the law for the Center for Reproductive Rights, told CBS News in an interview earlier this month. “And it won’t just be admitting privileges laws. It’ll be any number of sham restrictions that are nominally about women’s health, but of course, are really just designed to shut down clinics.”
A spokesperson for the state’s other two abortion providers — the Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge and Women’s Health Care Clinic in New Orleans — says “contingency plans are being discussed,” but as it stands, they would not be able to continue providing abortions if the Supreme Court were to uphold the admitting privilege law.
Meanwhile, a Planned Parenthood in New Orleans is also in court, fighting for a license to become an abortion provider. Even though the clinic has complied with the state’s requirements for obtaining the license, the state hasn’t decided, despite having applied over three years ago, said Petrice Sams-Abiodun, a spokesman at the New Orleans Planned Parenthood clinic.
“This work is really about providing women in the state of Louisiana with safe and legal abortions, which they are, but politicians here in Louisiana are really playing with women’s Louisiana passed laws that ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy (2018) and 6 weeks of pregnancy (2019). These laws will not be enacted unless and until a similar law passed in Mississippi is upheld by a federal appeals court.
Things could get even worse in November 2020. Louisiana has also passed a proposed amendment to the state constitution which will be on the ballot in the 2020 election. If approved, the amendment would pave the way to ban abortions without exception in Louisiana which would mean that there are no exceptions for rape or incest or if the life of the woman were in danger.
Bottom line: As I have stated in a previous article, banning and restricting abortion-on-demand masquerades under the ruse of protecting the rights of the unborn. But it is really more about controlling and dominating women and denying women their rights. The key question is really, do the new conservative Justices appointed by Trump and confirmed thanks to Moscow Mitch McConnell want to dominate women and deny them their rights? What do you think? We shall see shortly!