Louisiana’s 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that abortion physicians must continue to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, reports The Hill.
Pro-abortion litigators had argued that the admitting privileges law imposed an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions, because the regulation would force abortion clinics in Louisiana to shut their doors. However, the 5th Circuit Court found “no evidence that any of the clinics will close as a result of the Act.”
Judges on the court concluded that only 30% of Louisiana women at most could expect to wait longer for abortions as a result of the regulation.
The 5th Circuit Court distinguished Louisiana’s admitting privileges law from an analogous Texas regulation which the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. The Supreme Court had used an “undue burden” test to determine that Texas’ law was constitutional.
In contrast, when the 5th Circuit Court applied the same test to Louisiana’s regulation, it found that the regulation “does not impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women.”
Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals did not immediately respond to a request for comment from news agencies.
The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed Missouri to enforce laws which restrict abortion, reports The Hill.
The court overturned a previous ruling which blocked the regulations. As a result, abortion doctors in Missouri must now maintain affiliations with local hospitals, and clinics must obtain ambulatory surgical center licenses.
In 2016, Planned Parenthood disputed the regulations in court, arguing that the restrictions served no purpose and unduly burdened women seeking abortions.
“Look no farther than Missouri to see what kind of harm courts can inflict on women’s rights and freedoms,” said Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president. “[J]udges on the 8th Circuit continue to re-write the books on abortion access. Today’s ruling threatens to eliminate abortion access at all but one health center in the state.”
Pro-life lobbyist Samuel Lee expressed a different view. Missouri’s abortion law does not jeopardize women’s access to healthcare, but in fact “protects the health and safety of women who are seeking abortions in Missouri without imposing an undue burden on them,” Lee explained.
Indeed, U.S. Circuit Judge Bobby Shepherd found that a lower court improperly struck down Missouri’s regulations. That court did not consider the potential benefits of the state’s hospital affiliation requirement, Shepherd wrote in the majority opinion for the 8th Circuit.
Shepherd condemned the lower-court judge for relying on “slight implication and vague conjecture.” The lower court should instead have based its decision on “adequate information and correct application of the relevant standard.”
Shepherd’s ruling provides precedent for further restrictions on abortion. As the 8th Circuit Court’s decision demonstrates, abortion rights litigators may fail to mount a sound legal counterattack to abortion limits.