Abortion back in front of the nation's high court as justices consider Louisiana law

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The abortion debate returns to the Supreme Court this week. A Louisiana law impacting access to abortion services has the nine justices weighing, despite striking down a similar Texas law in 2016. The controversial case could send shockwaves nationwide.

June Medical Services v. Russo will look at Louisiana's law requiring abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital. (Source: Gray DC)

“They’ll have no ability to access abortion care at all,” said TJ Tu, senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights who is representing June Medical in June Medical Services v. Russo on Wednesday.

Tu says abortion is on trial at the nation’s high court. The question at hand is a Louisiana state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. That means being able to bring patients to a local hospital if something goes wrong in the procedure and treating them. Tu says it can be hard abortion providers to get those privileges, especially in a pro-life state like Louisiana.

“Hospitals give privileges to doctors who routinely send them patients. Abortion providers don’t routinely send patients to a hospital because abortion is so safe,” said Tu.

Tu says if this law holds up, only one doctor in the state will be able to perform abortions. Tu says ruling in favor of the state in this case would overturn the precedent set in 2016. He argues it could lead to unraveling the landmark decision in Roe v Wade that made abortion legal.

“If Louisiana can effectively shutdown all the clinics but one, then for women in Louisiana Roe v. Wade becomes irrelevant,” said Tu.

Louisiana’s Solicitor General Liz Murrill argues this case is not about abortion access, nor about ideologies surrounding the issue. She’s arguing it’s about women’s health.

“It was a common sense regulation that protects women and girls against the backdrop of an egregious health and safety history,” said Murrill.

She says this case is different from the rejected Texas law, claiming her state’s law does not carry the same widespread impact on women. She also says the Texas law seemingly targeted abortion doctors while other surgeons were not as heavily regulated. Murrill argues all doctors performing surgery in her state should be properly credentialed at hospitals.

“It’s a law that places them basically on the same playing field as other doctors who are performing surgical procedures,” said Murrill.

Arguments begin at 10 am Wednesday morning.

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