In a victory for abortion access, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in June Medical Services v. Russo that Louisiana could not require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The ruling upholds an earlier Supreme Court decision, Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down a similar Texas law because it placed on undue burden upon those seeking abortion care. While the Louisiana law was virtually identical to the Texas law, which was struck down in 2016, it was not a forgone conclusion that the Supreme Court—with the subsequent appointments of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the bench–would uphold the precedent.
If the law that was struck down today had been allowed to go into effect, Louisiana would have had only one abortion clinic in the entire state. This would have effectively left many people without access to an abortion provider, especially groups already marginalized: Black people, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, young people, and low income individuals. Today’s decision calls into question the constitutionality of a broad range of needless and arbitrary abortion restrictions, often referred to as targeted reductions of abortion providers (TRAP) laws. Numerous states, not just Texas and Louisiana, have passed TRAP laws in recent years in an effort to curb abortion access.
Jennie Wetter, the Population Institute’s director of public policy, said: “While today’s decision is a victory for reproductive rights, too many people still lack effective access to abortion services. A wide range of restrictions have been placed in the way of obtaining an abortion and clinics in many states have been forced to close for a variety of reasons making abortion even harder for people to access. Which means despite this favorable decision, the battle over abortion access is far from over and we will keep fighting until abortion is available and affordable to all.”
The Population Institute has endorsed the Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice which lays out a proactive policy agenda that includes as a core tenet that every individual must have unimpeded access to abortion care – regardless of where they live, how much money they have, their insurance, their age, or if they decide to self-manage their abortion. The Blueprint, which has been endorsed by more than 90 organizations, is grounded in the belief that an individual’s bodily integrity, privacy, and personal autonomy deserve constitutional protection.