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Supreme Court To Hear First Major Abortion Case Since Kavanaugh’s Confirmation. Here’s What To Know

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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  • The Supreme Court will take up June Medical Services v. Russo Wednesday in its first abortion case in four years.
  • Opponents of the law argue that abortion providers shouldn’t have to have admitting privileges in hospital as Louisiana law states.
  • Advocates of the argue it only makes women safer from improperly performed procedures.
  • “Abortion is extremely safe,” the Center for Reproductive Rights maintains.

The United States Supreme Court will hear an abortion case for the first time in Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s tenure as a Louisiana abortion business challenges a state law that defendants say protects women.

The court will take up June Medical Services v. Russo Wednesday, a case in which an abortion provider challenges a 2014 Louisiana state law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges in a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility. These admitting privileges would allow a woman to go directly to the hospital if she needs urgent care.

Pro-abortion opponents say that the law, the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act or Act 620, would hinder and potentially eliminate abortion access in Louisiana. About 10,000 abortions were performed in the state in 2017, according to the Guttmacher Institute. (RELATED: Here’s What College Students Had To Say About Third-Trimester Abortions)

Attorneys for the Center for Reproductive Rights, who argue on behalf of June Medical Services, say there are only two abortion providers who have admitting privileges in the state.

There is no medical justification for requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges, as abortion is extremely safe,” the Center for Reproductive Rights said in an October 2019 press release. CRR originally filed June Medical Services v. Gee in August 2014.

“Hospitals frequently deny admitting privileges to doctors who provide abortions for reasons ranging from ideological opposition to the fact that too few of their patients will ever need hospital care,” the CRR press release adds.

The law has one purpose, Senior Counsel with the Center for Reproductive Rights and one of two lead counsel T.J. Tu told the Daily Caller News Foundation : “to shut down abortion clinics.”

“It would close all of Louisiana’s clinics except one, putting abortion care completely out of reach for many women,” she said.

Tu said that admitting privileges are “almost impossible for abortion providers to obtain,” adding that hospitals deny admitting privileges to abortion doctors “due to ideological opposition, fear of backlash, or because patients rarely ever need to be admitted for follow-up care.”

“Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the U.S., with a lower complication rate than colonoscopies or tonsillectomies,” Tu added. “Yet, the state of Louisiana does not require the doctors performing those procedures to have admitting privileges.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry maintains that the law does not force clinic closures, citing the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals finding that “there is no evidence that any of the clinics will close as a result of the Act.” Louisiana abortion providers will be able to obtain admitting privileges if they are providing competent care, Landry said in a February press release

“Louisiana abortionists have gone to extraordinary lengths to block Act 620 – a bipartisan law that promotes the well-being of women and protects minor girls who may find themselves in the hands of incompetent providers and under unsafe conditions,” the AG’s office said in a statement.

Pro-life advocates argue that the Louisiana law protects women from abortion doctors who fail to properly and safely perform abortions. They also argue that abortion providers have no place to be suing the state on behalf of the very women whom the Louisiana law seeks to protect.

Americans United for Life President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster notes that particularly in Louisiana, “abortion facilities and abortion practitioners have a long history of professional disciplinary actions and substandard medical care” as well as “a record of ‘generally unsafe conditions and protection of rapists.'”

“It is impossible for abortion facilities and practitioners to share or represent the interests of these patients and assert third-party standing when they strive to eliminate the very regulations designed to protect their patients’ health and safety,” she wrote in a February SCOTUSblog post.

“A supermajority of Americans support Louisiana-style patient protection laws that ensure abortion practitioners meet the same medical standards as any normal physician,” Foster told the DCNF. “All Americans deserve patient protection laws like Louisiana’s, and every woman deserves the protection that clear health and safety standards provide.”

The Americans United for Life president added that abortionists in Louisiana are “actually fighting to abandon their patients.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Video Shows Anti-Kavanaugh Lawyer Saying Christine Blasey Ford Wanted ‘Asterisk’ By Justice’s Name)

“The Supreme Court’s decision to take up this case gives them the opportunity to address the inherent conflict between abortion businesses and women,” Foster explained.

The case will mark the first time the Supreme Court has reviewed an abortion case since Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court justice’s confirmation was marked by anxiety from the pro-abortion movement that Kavanaugh would rule favorably for pro-life policies.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 6: In this handout photo provided by the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, (Retired) administers the Judicial Oath to Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as his wife Ashley Kavanaugh holds the Bible while joined by their daughters Margaret and Liza, in the Justices Conference Room at the Supreme Court Building on October 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Fred Schilling/Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images)

Retired Justice Kennedy administers the Judicial Oath to Justice Kavanaugh (Fred Schilling/Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images)

He was accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford, whose lawyer Debra Katz said Ford’s accusations were motivated by putting “an asterisk next to” Kavanaugh’s name before “he takes a scalpel” to Roe v. Wade.

“In the aftermath of these hearings, I believe that Christine’s testimony brought about more good than the harm misogynist Republicans caused by allowing Kavanaugh on the court,” Katz says in a video exclusively obtained by the DCNF in September 2019.

“He will always have an asterisk next to his name,” Katz continues. “When he takes a scalpel to Roe v. Wade, we will know who he is, we know his character, and we know what motivates him, and that is important; it is important that we know, and that is part of what motivated Christine.”

Foster notes that this will be both Kavanaugh’s and other new Supreme Court members’ first chance to “meaningfully rule on abortion.”

“We are confident that their decision will be consistent with the U.S. Constitution and will affirm life,” she told the DCNF.

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