Supreme Court temporarily blocks Louisiana abortion clinic law

The Supreme Court is seen at sunset in Washington Thursday Jan. 24 2019

The Supreme Court is seen at sunset in Washington Thursday Jan. 24 2019

In 2017 the district court judge struck down the law after finding that it would place an undue burden on women's access to abortions with no meaningful health benefits. Republican President Donald Trump replaced Kennedy with Brett Kavanaugh, one of two Trump appointees who are part of the court's 5-4 conservative majority, along with Neil Gorsuch.

The Supreme Court temporarily halted a Louisiana law that would strip the state of certain abortion providers to give itself a few more days to consider the case.

Rachel Morrison, counsel for Americans United for Life, a pro-life advocacy group in Washington, said that in order for the Supreme Court to put this law on hold while the case is being appealed, there must be a "reasonable probability" that the court will agree to take the case and ultimately find the law unconstitutional.

After the Supreme Court's 2016 ruling that struck down required hospital admitting privileges, similar policies have been struck down or unenforced in Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Only one Louisiana doctor is now unable to get the needed privileges in the state, affecting, at most, 30 percent of women, "and even then not substantially", the 5th Circuit said. The high court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

Lawyers for the abortion provider said the Louisiana provision is nearly identical to the Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016 on a 5-3 vote, with Kennedy joining the court's four liberals in the majority.

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"I had not thought that abortion cases were an exception to the coda that appellate judges are not the triers of fact", said a 5th Circuit dissenter, Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham.

The Louisiana law - passed in 2014 but never allowed to go into effect - requires any physician providing abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the procedure. "One doctor at one clinic can not possibly meet the needs of approximately 10,000 women who seek abortion services in Louisiana each year", the emergency petition says.

The state argued there was no need for a stay because the law would be implemented gradually.

The case is June Medical Services v. Gee.

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