US: Supreme Court Agrees to Review Louisiana Abortion Restrictions

The Supreme Court agreed to review Louisiana abortion restrictions that require doctors to hold hospital admitting privileges near where the procedure is provided, a case that will test recent abortion precedent and reveal the thinking of the court’s newest members on the inflammatory issue. The justices added the case to their docket Friday ahead of the start of their new term next week.

The Louisiana law, enacted in 2014, says physicians performing abortions must hold admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Abortion-rights proponents who challenged the law say the restrictions provide no actual health and safety benefits for women seeking abortions and would leave the state with only one operating abortion clinic. The state disputes that claim, saying the law wouldn’t force the closure of any of the three clinics that operate within Louisiana, though it could cause short delays at one of them.

The case marks the first time the Supreme Court will consider the issue of abortion rights since the addition of two Trump appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. President Trump had pledged to nominate justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that established a constitutional right to abortion. Both men have said they made no such commitment, but their conservative records led antiabortion activists to cheer their selection.

Whether to overturn Roe is not an issue in the Louisiana litigation, but the case could provide an early test of whether a more conservative court will take a narrower view of what constitutes an undue burden on women seeking abortions—the test established in a 1992 opinion, co-written by retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, that narrowed the 1973 Roe decision yet left in place a woman’s right to end her pregnancy within a certain time frame.

More cases are likely to confront the court in the coming years as an array of conservative states, hoping for a more receptive audience at the Supreme Court, have passed new restrictive abortion laws aimed at trimming Roe substantially—or overturning it outright. Read more via Wall Street Journal