By Staff, Baptist Message
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked enforcement of a Louisiana law March 3 which called for doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
The justices reversed an order by the federal appeals court in New Orleans that allowed Louisiana to begin enforcing its 2014 clinic regulation law even as it is being challenged in the courts.
Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Benjamin Clapper expressed his disappointment in the reversal of the federal appeals court in New Orleans.
“We are disappointed the Supreme Court has blocked our common-sense admitting privileges law until further appeals in the 5th Circuit, and ultimately, the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision coming in June on a similar law in Texas,” Clapper said. “Abortion physicians shouldn’t have exceptions to safety standards, and we hope the Supreme Court will ultimately decide to protect Louisiana’s right to enact appropriate regulations to protect the health of its citizens.”
By blocking Louisiana’s law, this could be a sign that a similar law in Texas also could be in peril.
The legal group representing the clinics says facilities in Baton Rouge and Bossier City already have had to stop providing abortions and a clinic in Shreveport would have had to stop soon as well.
The justices’ order, with only Justice Clarence Thomas noting his dissent, came two days after the court heard arguments in a major abortion case from Texas and just hours after the Supreme Court voted in a private meeting on the outcome of that case.
Will Hall, director of Louisiana Baptists Office of Public Policy and editor of The Baptist Message, said, “The U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down a Louisiana law that sought to ensure abortion providers have admitting privileges to a local hospital in case of a botched procedure will continue to keep abortions legal — just not safe.
“This reasonable requirement would help ensure some measure of health safety in what has become a dangerous business for women with an estimated 940 requiring hospitalization due to complications from an abortion in one year in Texas alone,” Hall said.
A vote in favor of the clinics in Louisiana could signal Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose vote is crucial to both sides since the Court is operating with eight justices after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last month, also could be a decisive fifth vote in favor of abortion clinics in Texas.
The cases are at different stages in the legal process, but both involve similar laws and actions by the same federal appeals court, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
While both laws would have made doctors who perform abortions to get admitting privileges, the Texas law would have forced clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery.
The Supreme Court has previously put the Texas surgical center standards on hold, and cited that action in its order Friday. In 2013, however, the court split 5-4 in allowing Texas to require doctors to have hospital admitting privileges to perform abortions in clinics.
Opponents of the Texas law said half the 40 clinics that were open in Texas before the 2013 law closed as a result. There would be only 10 clinics left in the state if the Texas law were to be fully enforced.
Brian Gunter, pastor of First Baptist Church in Pollock, said a prayer vigil planned for March 12 at abortion clinics in Bossier City and Shreveport will go ahead as planned.
The first vigil, which will take place at 1505 Doctors Drive in Bossier City, the site of Bossier City Medical Suite, will go on as planned. It will start at 10 a.m. At the completion of the first, the group will then travel to 210 Kings Highway in Shreveport, where Hope Medical Group for Women is located, for a second prayer vigil.