The Supreme Court Is Hearing a Crucial Abortion Case Today

Supermajority Education Fund

March 4, 2020

Today the Supreme Court will hear June Medical Services v. Russo, a case that challenges a 2014 Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Abortion advocates argue that if the Supreme Court enforces the law, only one provider will meet this requirement, drastically limiting Louisiana residents’ access to abortion. 

This case comes as reproductive rights continue to face legal attacks across the U.S. Last week, the Court of Appeals upheld the Trump administration’s 2019 rule that prohibits local clinics from using Title X money to provide or refer patients for abortions. Per the Guttmacher Institute, following the administration’s enforced rule, 1.6 million patients nationwide can no longer receive reproductive healthcare through Title X, a 1970 federal law that allows for low-income patients to obtain birth control, reproductive care, and other healthcare at clinics.

Rosann Mariappuram, executive director of Jane’s Due Process, told Supermajority News that June Medical Services v. Russo involves anti-abortion laws that are very similar to the 2016 Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which decided the fate of abortion access for Texas residents. In that case, the Supreme Court decided in a 5-3 ruling that the state of Texas could not place restrictions on abortion services that place an “undue burden” for people seeking abortions. Mariappuram added that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Louisiana law, it will overturn the precedent set by the 2016 case. 

“Louisiana politicians are openly defying Supreme Court precedent,” Mariappuram said. “If the Supreme Court allows this law to stand, it will be nearly impossible for patients to access abortion care in Louisiana. And it would signal to anti-choice legislators in other states that they can successfully pass similar laws to shut down clinics in their states, further pushing abortion access out of reach for millions of people in the U.S.”

Legislatures at the state level have been fighting for years to roll back abortion rights codified by Roe v. Wade. Just last year, 17 states enacted an abortion restriction of some kind. Alabama enacted a total ban on abortion at any point in pregnancy, while Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ohio banned abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Missouri banned the procedure after eight weeks of gestation and included additional bans at three other gestational ages.  

Aimee Arrambide, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said that if Americans want to see an end to this kind of legislation, they can make real change by rallying together with their communities.

“It’s critical that we organize and educate those around us about this case, and everything that’s at stake,” Arrambide said. “And as we talk to those in our lives and our communities about this case, we should also remind them to support abortion providers, abortion funds, and state and local groups in any way they can.”