The petitioners argue that nearly all abortion clinics in the state would close while the matter is pending in the Supreme Court and that the justices should keep the law from going into effect during that time.
Even Louisiana acknowledged that its law - which requires doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals - is almost identical to a Texas law that the Supreme Court in 2016 found to be unconstitutional.
Critics of the law say that the new measure placed an onerous and unnecessary burden on the right to abortion and would have shuttered two of the three clinics that perform the procedure in the state. If the Court does hear it, it's possible it will uphold it. Justice Kavanaugh wrote a dissent to yesterday's decision signaling his willingness to overturn the precedent of Whole Women's Health, which could spell trouble for the future of Roe.
In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court granted February 7 a temporary stay blocking the law while it is adjudicated in lower courts. Supporters of abortion rights fear that the court's conservative majority - solidified by the addition of Donald Trump's nominees Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh - will move to chip away at abortion rights if not eventually all but overturn the landmark Supreme Court opinions of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Furthermore, during the 45-day transition period, both the doctors and the relevant hospitals could act expeditiously and in good faith to reach a definitive conclusion about whether those three doctors can obtain admitting privileges. Challengers raced to court and said the law was a veiled attempt to block abortions.
Two days before the high court's action, David French - senior writer for National Review and former senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom - said a stay of the Fifth Circuit opinion by the justices would be "quite frankly ominous news for the pro-life movement". Seated from left: Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel Alito.
"The case largely turns on the intensely factual question whether the three doctors-Doe 2, Doe 5, and Doe 6-can obtain admitting privileges", Kavanaugh said in a written dissent.
In the 2016 Texas case, the court found that requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, "provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an "undue burden" on their constitutional right to do so". Has the chief justice had a change of heart and grown to understand that abortion rights without access are meaningless? Rather than repealing Roe v. Wade outright, it's probably the best way for conservatives to achieve their goal of getting something identical to a repeal while avoiding at least some of the ensuing controversy.
"Unfortunately, the supreme court today put enforcement of this pro-woman law on hold for the time being", said Landry. Susan Collins (R-ME) that he would never undermine abortion rights, dissented, arguing the law should be allowed to take effect.
Some of those measures, which provide for late-term abortion in the cases where the health of the mother is in jeopardy, have generated fierce opposition from anti-abortion groups. The abortion industry now will ask the Supreme Court for a full review.
Thursday night's Louisiana ruling may have only delayed the coming upheaval. "And in that circumstance, the Louisiana law as applied would not impose an undue burden under Whole Woman's Health", Kavanaugh wrote. "Here, only one doctor at one clinic is now unable to obtain privileges", Judge Jerry Smith wrote for the panel, reported the Wall Street Journal. Should the Court agree to hear the case, arguments would likely happen in the fall. That will come later, when the Court decides if it will take the case.