December 2, 2019

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that the Supreme Court should protect people’s right to access abortion in an amicus brief filed before the Supreme Court today in June Medical Services v. Gee.

In the brief, the ACLU argues that the Supreme Court must overturn the decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld Louisiana’s law requiring abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The Louisiana law is identical to a Texas statute that the Supreme Court struck down just three years ago in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In that case, the justices ruled that Texas’s law was unconstitutional because it provided no health benefits but closed clinics and cut off access to abortion. 

The Louisiana law now before the Court is just as medically unnecessary, and just as harmful. It would force most abortion clinics in the state to close their doors and block people from accessing an abortion. As argued in today’s amicus brief, judges around the country have found that similar laws would shutter abortion clinics and prevent people from being able to access an abortion. 

“The Fifth Circuit’s decision is simply irreconcilable with Supreme Court precedent, and must be reversed,” said Andrew Beck, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Courts around the country have found that these laws are designed to block patients’ access to abortion and would have a devastating impact on a person’s ability to access the medical care they need. The Supreme Court should put an end to this political interference with individual health care decisions and strike down Louisiana’s unconstitutional law.”

The ACLU has represented multiple abortion providers in constitutional challenges to state laws that, like in June Medical, prevent physicians from providing abortions unless they are able to obtain local hospital admitting privileges. The enforcement of such admitting privileges laws drastically reduces access to abortion care.

In Alabama, an admitting privileges requirement would have forced four of the state’s five clinics to close, leaving only a single clinic in the state. And in Wisconsin, the law would have forced one of only four clinics in the state to close because its physicians were unable to obtain admitting privileges at any local hospital. Admitting privileges laws in Texas and Mississippi had similarly devastating effects. 

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