Key Portion of Louisiana Abortion Law Struck Down—Will the Supreme Court Follow Suit?

A federal judge finds a Louisiana law’s requirement that abortion doctors have hospital admitting privileges unconstitutional.

[DIGEST: ABC News, Courthouse News, SCOTUS Blog]

A federal judge ruled late last month that Louisiana abortion doctors do not need to have admitting privileges to hospitals, as required by Louisiana’s Act 620. The state mandate would have left over 99 percent of Louisiana women with no access to abortion, according to the ruling.

The ruling continued a preliminary injunction, which prevented the enforcement of the admitting privileges portion of the Act while litigation continued. In issuing his opinion, U.S. District Judge John deGravelles in Baton Rouge found that the admitting privileges portion of the Act was facially unconstitutional in that it placed “an undue burden on the right of a large fraction of Louisiana women to an abortion.”

Credit: Source.
Credit: Source.

Act 620, which was signed into law in June 2014, provides that every physician who performs an abortion must have active admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles of where the abortion is performed.

The judge, in issuing his 112-page decision, stated that enforcement of the admitting privileges portion of the Act would “result in delays in care, causing higher risk of complications, as well as a likely increase in self-performed, unlicensed and unsafe abortions.”

Proponents of the Act claimed the admitting privileges requirement was intended to protect women’s health. Louisiana does not require doctors performing procedures other than abortions to have admitting privileges.  

When the Act was passed, only one of six doctors performing abortions in Louisiana had admitting privileges, in part because they rarely needed to 

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