(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments for the latest landmark abortion case on Wednesday morning, which could change the landscape of abortion law in America — and abortion access — for years to come.
June Medical Services v. Russo (previously v. Gee) is a challenge from Louisiana abortion providers to a 2014 state law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges with a nearby hospital, which allows a patient to go to that hospital if they need urgent care. Because abortion statistically has very low complication rates, the need for hospital care is extremely rare.
Louisiana’s law is effectively identical to one from Texas ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2016. Texas’ law had “led to the closure of half of Texas’ clinics, or thereabouts,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the court’s opinion, without improving health outcomes for patients.
Louisiana is also questioning “third-party standing,” essentially asking if providers and clinics should legally be allowed to challenge abortion laws on behalf of patients. Abortion rights advocates say it may be difficult to find individual patients to challenge abortion laws given the limited time one has to get an abortion and the risks of being targeted by anti-abortion advocates.
“The law at issue in June Medical Services v. Russo seeks to ensure that women get the competent and quality care that they deserve,” Jeanne Mancini, president of the anti-abortion group March for Life, said in a statement, going on to claim Louisiana abortion providers have “serious health and safety violations.”
Although an amicus brief filed on behalf of 207 member of Congress — all but two of whom are Republicans — asked the Supreme Court to use this case to reconsider or overrule Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that declared abortion a protected right, Roe is not directly on the docket here.
However, “without overturning Roe at all,” the Supreme Court could use this case to “make abortion access in this country even more fraught,” Kimberly Mutcherson, co-dean and law professor at Rutgers Law School, told ABC News.
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