Earlier this month, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear June Medical Services v. Gee, a challenge to a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Just three years ago, the Supreme Court struck down an identical Texas law and ruled that admitting privileges requirements impose an undue burden on people seeking abortion. The court found that Texas’ admitting privileges law would not help “even one woman obtain better treatment.” In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the court made it clear that states cannot restrict people from accessing health care.
Now, the Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider the same restriction in Louisiana. One thing has changed since the high court’s decision in 2016: Justice Brett Kavanaugh has replaced Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted to protect abortion access in 2016. If the Supreme Court sides with Louisiana in this case, it would decimate access to abortion in the state -- Louisiana would become the seventh state in the country to have only one abortion provider. And the impacts aren’t limited to Louisiana. If the Supreme Court upholds this medically unnecessary restriction, it could pave the way for states around the country to effectively ban abortion for over 25 million people of reproductive age. This would render the protections of Roe v. Wade meaningless without the court ever having to overturn Roe.
We understand the severity of this situation because we’ve been here before. When an identical admitting privileges requirement took effect in Texas, more than half the clinics providing abortion in the state shut down, leaving thousands without care. Wait times at remaining clinics increased, people had to take off work, arrange childcare and travel long distances to access abortion, and some went without care all together. Three years since the legal victory in Whole Woman’s Health, the patchwork of clinics in Texas has yet to recover and people in parts of the state still have to drive over 300 miles one-way to access care.
If the Supreme Court breaks with its own precedent and upholds the Louisiana law, we would see the same devastating impacts in Louisiana, with people of color, people with low incomes, and those who live in rural areas bearing the brunt of the harm. We cannot allow this to happen. Our rights, our freedoms, and our health care shouldn’t depend on where we live or how much money we have. We are proud to stand strong with our partners at the Center for Reproductive Rights who brought this case on behalf of the brave independent abortion providers in Louisiana, and we will continue fighting the state for unconstitutionally blocking the abortion license for our New Orleans health center. We will never stop fighting for our patients to have not only the legal right, but real access to the health care they need -- no matter what.