In a conference call held on Wednesday morning, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) announced it filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to strike down a law that could potentially shut down the few remaining abortion providers in the state.
The law in question is Act 620. The law would require any physician providing abortion services in Louisiana to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the procedure. It was set to take effect in February but was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. The law will remain blocked until the case can be decided.
They claim that only one facility will remain if the law goes into effect. There are currently only three abortion clinics left in the state. Lead Counsel on the case Travis J. Tu said: “the lone remaining clinic would be the one in Baton Rouge.”
An admitting privileges law in Texas was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2016 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Tu stated during the conference call the Texas law is “identical’ to Act 620 and is equally unconstitutional.
Those who disagree with Tu have noted that key differences in the two laws include the number of abortion facilities, the distance between facilities, and population of the states.
The CRR expressed that the case could deal a major blow to abortion rights in Louisiana.
“The stakes, in this case, couldn’t be higher for Louisiana women, where abortion access is hanging by a thread,” said Nancy Northrup, President of the CRR.
“If states are allowed to disregard Supreme Court decisions, the constitutional protections of Roe v. Wade are in peril.”
It is expected that the case may be considered when they reconvene in October, as time may run out before the end of the current term. Clinic Administrator for Hope Medical Group Kathleen Pittman stated that she fears dangerous self abortions could rise if the law were to be upheld.
“We anticipate a rise in self-abortion if this happens,” Pittman said. “Anytime a self-abortion is unsuccessful it is life-threatening, and can cause women to not be able to get pregnant again in the future.”
Northrup noted that “unsafe abortion is a leading cause in maternal death in countries where abortion is illegal.”
Benjamin Clapper, President of the pro-life group Louisiana Right to Life stated in response to the CRR’s announcement that abortion clinics should have the same admitting privileges that other outpatient medical facilities have.
“There is no reason that this should not apply to abortion facilities as well. The playing fields should be even,” said Clapper. “Abortion clinics should not receive special loopholes in America just because they are abortion clinics.”
Clapper contended that the CRR is pursuing this case to protect the business interests of abortion providers, rather than defending women’s rights as they claim.
“These are for-profit businesses,” he said. “Their interests are tied to selling the most abortions.”
He noted an incident that occurred on March 15 in Baton Rouge when a woman had to be sent to the hospital due to complications. She was taken from the Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge to a local hospital via ambulance.
Clapper noted that cases like that show the need for admitting privileges for abortion clinics. He said it “shows that complications can and do happen at abortion facilities. These facilities need basic procedures to care for those with complications. The continuity of care needs to continue.”