NIRH Relieved that U.S. Supreme Court Reaffirms Precedent to Preserve Access to Abortion in Louisiana

June 29, 2020
Contact: Liza Dee, [email protected]

In June Medical Services v. Russo, Court strikes down Louisiana admitting privileges law that effectively banned abortion 

The following is a statement from Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) and the NIRH Action Fund

New York – The U.S. Supreme Court today announced its decision in June Medical Services v. Russo, declaring a Louisiana state law requiring physicians who provide abortion care to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic to be unconstitutional. Four years ago, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Court ruled that an almost identical Texas admitting privilege law imposed an undue burden on access to abortion and did not provide health and safety benefits to patients. The ruling today, which will preserve abortion access in the state of Louisiana, finds that the Louisiana law – like the Texas law struck down four years ago – also imposes an undue burden on abortion access.

“We are relieved that the people of Louisiana will continue to have access to abortion, especially in the face of a coronavirus pandemic that has made timely, safe, affordable care even harder to access,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) and the NIRH Action Fund. “Yet this decision – especially Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion – shows that abortion access is by no means secure. Even after the Supreme Court struck down an almost identical Texas admitting privileges law four years ago, this copycat law continued to threaten abortion access in Louisiana. Today, the Court stepped in to again block a state law that would deny access to essential, time-sensitive abortion care. But there’s no telling what will happen next time an abortion case comes before the Court.”

Louisiana’s admitting privileges law is part of a coordinated, decades-long campaign waged by anti-abortion extremists to destroy abortion access. Since 2011, anti-abortion lawmakers have passed more than 450 laws attempting to chip away at abortion access; more than 1,100 laws like these have been passed since Roe v. Wade took effect. The Trump-Pence administration has further emboldened their efforts.

This decision, reaffirming decades of cases protecting the right to abortion, will once again help protect access in the many states that continue to try to limit abortion access despite widespread public support for abortion access.  But the fact that Louisiana and other states have and will continue to push the boundaries underscores how critical it is for as many state legislatures as possible to step up and pass their own laws to protect access to abortion in their states. Since 2019, states including Illinois, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia all passed laws that protect and expand access to abortion care.  As access to abortion continues to exist as a patchwork across the country, the role of states and localities in safeguarding and advancing access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, has never been more clear or critical.

“As the Trump-Pence administration and many states move to push abortion care out of reach, we’ve seen a tidal wave of support from voters across the country who want access to abortion care to be preserved and respected,” said Miller. “NIRH and the NIRH Action Fund will continue to fight alongside our state and local partners to elect champions for reproductive freedom, flip statehouses, and pass proactive protections enshrining abortion access into law.”

This fall, states including Arizona, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania will have their chance to flip their statehouses to a majority of lawmakers that support of reproductive freedom, setting the stage for continued momentum on the side of reproductive health, rights, and justice.

The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) and the National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund (NIRH Action Fund) are advocacy groups that fight to protect and advance access to reproductive health care and build political power for reproductive freedom. They work hand-in-hand with reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations in states and cities across the country to build coalitions, launch campaigns, change policy, and elect candidates who stand up for everyone’s right to control their reproductive lives.Their strategy is to go on the offensive to pass laws that safeguard reproductive freedom.

 They work in the communities where change is needed, so the fabric of reproductive freedom becomes harder to tear apart.