More than 200 members of Congress filed an amicus brief in support of a Louisiana pro-life law that has made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Many believe that the high court’s decision on this case could decide the future of abortion access in the United States, possibly overturning Roe v. Wade.
The Louisiana law, which passed in 2014, requires doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of the abortion clinic for patient emergency situations.
The Abortion Protection Act requires abortion clinics to have the same safety standards as other outpatient surgical centers. But June Medical Services, an abortion facility in Shreveport, Louisiana, and the plaintiff of the legal suit, argues that the law was solely designed to close abortion clinics throughout Louisiana.
A federal district judge blocked the law in 2017. But in 2018, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld it, arguing that the law would not impose an “undue burden,” which has been the high court’s key legal test for challenges to abortion restrictions.
The 5th Circuit also found a history of health and safety code violations at June Medical Services.
“Americans United for Life welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision to review both the commonsense Louisiana admitting privileges law and the legal question whether an abortionist should be able to stand in the shoes of his patients to challenge a medical requirement that is designed to protect them from him,” said AUL’s president, Catherine Glenn Foster, in an October press release. “Louisiana’s long and sordid history of dirty and dangerous abortion businesses being shuttered one by one in order to protect women from fly-by-night and dangerous abortionists should tell the court all it needs to know, both about the legal benefits of this law and the dubious right of abortionists to sue to overturn laws designed to protect their own patients.”
The amicus brief filed by 168 House members and 39 senators—including two democrats—stated that lawmakers have a “special interest in the correct interpretation, application and enforcement of health and safety standards for elective abortions enacted by the people of the states they represent.”
In addition to health and safety issues, the signatories asked the court to reconsider the underpinning of Roe v. Wade.
“Forty-six years after Roe was decided, it remains a radically unsettled precedent,” the brief says.
Pro-life organizations, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, also filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court.
“This court’s precedent concerning the discretion of states to enact abortion restrictions should be reexamined and put on a firm legal and historical footing,” BGEA wrote in its brief. “That task begins with the recognition that an unborn child, a fetus, qualifies as ‘any person’ under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution.”
The Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments on March 4. This will be the first abortion-related case to be heard by Trump-appointed justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.