Major medical groups urge Supreme Court to strike down Louisiana abortion law

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in March on a Louisiana abortion law.

Several major medical groups are among those that have urged the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a Louisiana abortion law.

In an amicus brief (PDF) submitted to the court, the physician groups said the law is medically unnecessary and harmful to patients.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case March 4. The medical groups were part of a coalition of leaders in medicine, law and public policy, along with abortion patients and advocates, who submitted 27 amicus briefs to the court Monday in opposition to the law that would close every abortion clinic in Louisiana except for one, leaving a single physician able to perform abortions in the state, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The brief submitted by the medical groups argues against the law which requires doctors who perform abortions in Louisiana to have hospital admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the location where the abortion is performed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other medical groups signed on to the brief.

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The case marks the first abortion rights case to be heard by the Supreme Court since the confirmation of conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

As stated in the brief, the Supreme Court in 2016 struck down a Texas law similar to the Louisiana law that required a clinician who performs abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital near the location at which the abortion is performed. Such a restriction is not medically necessary and unconstitutionally restricts patients’ access to reproductive healthcare, the groups said.

With two new justices on the court, abortion opponents hope the court will uphold the Louisiana law.

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The brief was filed in support of the challenge brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights to the Louisiana law on behalf of June Medical Services, which operates a women’s health clinic in Shreveport.  

“This diverse and unprecedented array of expert voices, individual women, and advocates paints a compelling portrait of the immense stakes in this case,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “It’s clear that support for abortion access and the rule of law spans all political parties, all professions and all walks of life.”

The American Bar Association also filed its own amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to protect abortion rights. A brief from 197 members of Congress also was submitted opposing the Louisiana law.