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Supreme Court hears petition to overturn Louisiana abortion law

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Washington D.C., Apr 18, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- Louisiana abortion providers presented arguments to the Supreme Court Wednesday, asking the court to strike down a state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

The Center for Reproductive Rights formally presented its petition April 17, after the court granted a stay in February which blocked the law from coming into effect while lower courts heard the case.

The District Court found against the law in 2016, preventing it from coming into effect, but the decision was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals’ 5th Circuit.

The abortion providers argue that the Louisiana law would, if allowed to come into effect, leave the state with only one doctor qualified to perform abortions. They also contend that the law is near-identical to a Texas statute struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016, calling the similarities “crystal clear.”

The law requires that any abortion doctor have “active admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility.

The appeal filed Wednesday argued that the result of the law would be to deny the vast majority of Louisiana women access to their constitutionally protected right to an abortion.

The 2016 decision was rendered 5-3 before the appointment of a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia.

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Chief Justice John Roberts voted to uphold the Texas law, but also agreed to grant the stay in February. The case is expected to be heard by the court during its next session after the summer.

Since the 2016 case was decided, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch have joined the court. Both opposed the granting of the February stay, with Kavanaugh issuing a widely read dissenting opinion.

Speaking in February, Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry vowed to continue the legal fight, and pointed out that the law was passed by the state legislature with nearly unanimous consent.

“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has put enforcement of this pro-woman law on hold for the time being,” said Landry.

“We remain hopeful that if the Supreme Court grants certiorari in this case, it will to be to re-affirm that court's rule in fact-specific cases; because the facts in our case show [the law] is constitutional and consistent with our overall regulatory scheme for surgical procedures.”


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