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Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Rights In Louisiana – But We’ve Still Got Work To Do

Statement by National NOW President Toni Van Pelt

June 29, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court’s decision today in June Medical Services v. Russo struck down a Louisiana law imposing targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP laws) that the Court had previously found unconstitutional in Texas. TRAP laws are not designed to protect women’s health, but rather to expand the power of patriarchal church leaders and conservative Republicans and to dictate women’s most personal health decisions.

The court also declined to rule on third-party standing which means that abortion providers can continue to challenge law that restrict access on behalf of their patients which is a crucial win for abortion activists. The case was a challenge to a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in his majority opinion, this case was “almost word-for-word identical” to the law at issue in the Texas case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt, from 2016. In that case, the crucial fifth vote was cast by Justice Kennedy—but his replacement, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, voted to keep the restrictions on the books.

Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the majority in this case, but only because he agreed with Breyer that the issues had already been decided by the Court. He reiterated his opposition to the arguments made by the majority in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt. He doesn’t agree with Justice Breyer that the Texas and Louisiana laws “will continue to make it impossible for abortion providers to obtain conforming privileges for reasons that have nothing to do with the State’s asserted interests in promoting women’s health and safety.”

This means that with John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch on the Court, access to abortion care is still on the brink of repeal. NOW applauds today’s legal victory, but we have no illusions about the challenges women still face in defending their reproductive rights from activist judges and extremist politicians.

Today we celebrate, but tomorrow we march—and in November, we vote.