Women’s health went up against abortion providers at the U.S. Supreme Court, and today in the June Medical decision on June 29 the abortion providers won. The Court blew it today. The Louisiana law at issue in the case required that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their abortion facility. On a 5-4 vote, as narrow a vote as possible, the Court ruled that women have no right to an abortion provider who can get a patient into a hospital without delay in case of an abortion that leaves a woman’s life in jeopardy.
The right to life was not at issue in June Medical. It was not about the preborn child. The Louisiana law was strictly about women’s health. The Court’s decision is indefensible. It had nothing to do with a woman’s “right” to abortion. It’s a gift to abortion providers, who have judicial approval when they don’t have hospital privileges to benefit their patients.
As Justice Alito wrote “The plurality concludes that the Louisiana law does nothing to protect the health of women, but that is disproved by substantial evidence in the record….The decision in this case, like that in Whole Woman’s Health [overturning a Texas law 2016], twists the law, and I therefore respectfully dissent.”
A procedural flaw in the case was nearly as offensive as the decision’s rejection of women’s health. The abortion providers who challenged the Louisiana law did so on behalf of their patients as a group, without a single woman named as a plaintiff. That should have been enough for the Court to find that the plaintiffs lacked standing, since no individual claimed to have been harmed by the Louisiana law. In fact, the argument could be made that the abortion clinics were acting in their own best interests rather than in the interests of the women they claimed to represent. The Supreme Court’s majority brushed that fact aside in their eagerness to give abortion providers a win.
In the majority were Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Chief Justice Roberts. Justices Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh dissented.