Supreme to hear case involving Louisiana’s abortion law, pro-life and pro-choice advocates react

Updated: Oct. 4, 2019 at 8:31 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The highest court in the land agreed on Friday (Oct. 4) to take up a legal fight over a Louisiana abortion law.

And local pro-choice and pro-life forces see the case as a huge test for the new conservative leaning U.S. Supreme Court.

Lakeesha Harris, is with Women with A Vision, which is based in New Orleans and provides services for women.

"I was hoping that they would dismiss it but if they can't dismiss it, I would rather they hear it and hear us out,” said Harris.

The Supreme Court justices will examine a 2014 Louisiana law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Harris and others in the pro-choice movement believe the law is the same as a Texas law that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016.

But pro-life advocates like Ben Clapper, who is the Executive Director of Louisiana Right-to-Life, disagree with that argument.

"The Texas law includes requirements that they have ambulatory surgical center requirements, the Louisiana law is only about the admitting privileges and therefore it's more narrowly tailored,” said Clapper. "In addition, the 2016 decision from the Supreme Court dealt a lot with Texas' geography and the travel distance women would have to cross in Texas. Louisiana's facts are different. Our attorney general and his office have made those facts known and that's why the Supreme Court has ruled differently."

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked Louisiana’s law from taking effect.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is involved in the case, and its CEO Nancy Northup said Louisiana is trying to trample on the right to have an abortion.

"Abortion access in Louisiana is already hanging by a thread. The number of abortion clinics has fallen from seven in 2011 to just three today. If this law is allowed to take effect, there will be only one doctor left to provide abortion care for the approximately one million women of reproductive age in Louisiana,” said Northup.

A lot of eyes are expected to be on the justices as they take up the case because the court has become more conservative leaning with the two appointments made by President Donald Trump.

Still, Clapper said no one knows what that will mean to the outcome of the case.

"We can't hazard a guess as of what they might do, but we're optimistic that by the Supreme Court choosing to review this law, that they are going to revisit some of their decision in 2016,” he said.

Harris said the composition of the court is worrisome, but she remains optimistic that the challenge to Louisiana’s law will be successful.

"I'm very concerned, hopeful that you know, that justice will prevail but ultimately you know as a reproductive justice advocate and activist I'm very concerned about the conservative leaning court,” she said.

A decision may not come until the summer of 2020.

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