The Supreme Court has agreed on Friday to hear a case regarding a Louisiana abortion law that is very similar to a case they decided on a Texas abortion law just three years ago. The only difference is that openly anti-abortion justice Brett Kavanaugh now sits in what was formerly notorious swing voter Anthony Kennedy’s seat. Kennedy delivered the determining fifth vote in the Texas case that led the Court to strike down its abortion law.
This Louisiana law, nearly identically to the rejected Texas one, requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital nearby. It also requires clinics to effectively be mini-hospitals in and of themselves, with wide corridors and expensive equipment — neither of which are medically necessary to ensure the safety of a patient undergoing an abortion.
In 2016, the Court overruled the Texas law citing a prior case, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. It said these strict health requirements placed a “substantial burden” on the right to choose established in the landmark Roe v. Wade case.
“A statute which, while furthering [a] valid state interest, has the effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman’s choice cannot be considered a permissible means of serving its legitimate ends,” Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey reads.
This Louisiana case, June Medical Services v. Gee, ended in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ignoring the 2016 Texas case’s precedent and upholding Louisiana’s law. Abortion clinics in the state appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court’s decision could determine the fate of the right to abortion in the U.S. If the justices vote in favor of the Louisiana law staying in place, it would overturn the Texas decision and likely create a domino effect in which earlier abortion-rights decisions would be revisited, NPR reports.
If the Louisiana law is passed, only one doctor and clinic in the state would meet the guidelines. The law was originally struck down by U.S. District Judge John deGravelles before heading to the appeals court because he found no evidence of the restrictions aiding patient safety.
NPR reports that 10,000 women each year seek abortions in Louisiana. DeGravelles calculated that even if the doctor worked every day, the physician could not meet the demand for care.
Less access to abortion makes the issue a class issue, as underprivileged people have fewer resources to be able to take time out of their lives and spend money on traveling.