The Supreme Court struck down an onerous and unnecessary Louisiana restriction on abortion, offering a striking rebuke to the state for passing the same version of a law the high court ruled was unconstitutional four years ago.
In a 5-4 decision in June Medical Services L.L.C. vs. Russo, the court found that the Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals provided no health benefits to women and would drastically curtail access to the procedure, most likely leaving one clinic and one doctor in the state to provide abortions.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing the principal opinion, made it clear in his opening sentence that the Louisiana law was “almost word-for-word identical” to the Texas law that the court struck down in the Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt case four years ago.
As in the Texas case, the tribunal upheld a lower court’s finding that requiring hospital admitting privileges would make it impossible for many women and arduous for most others to obtain a safe, legal abortion in Louisiana — and would not make an already very safe procedure any safer. According to a comprehensive review of published studies, office-based abortion clinics reported a less than 0.5% risk of hospitalization after a first-trimester abortion, the most common type.