Supreme Court to hear Louisiana abortion case

Supreme Court to hear Louisiana abortion case
© Stefani Reynolds

The Supreme Court announced Friday it would take up an abortion case from Louisiana, setting the stage for a national fight over a contentious issue during a presidential election year.

It will be the first abortion case taken up by the Supreme Court since President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE's two nominees — Justices Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchBiden needs to bring religious Americans into the Democratic fold McConnell has 17-point lead over Democratic challenger McGrath: poll Kavanaugh urged Supreme Court to avoid decisions on Trump finances, abortion: report MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughBiden hits back after Trump's attacks on Harris Trump and allies grapple with how to target Harris Joe Biden played it safe MORE — were confirmed to the bench.

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The case centers on the law in Louisiana that would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, a requirement that critics say is designed to force abortion clinics to close.

The Supreme Court in February ruled 5-4 to block the law from taking effect while it was being challenged in court, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the liberal justices.

But it’s not certain whether Roberts’s decision in February means he will vote to block the law after the court hears oral arguments.

Kavanaugh and Gorsuch sided with Justices Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasWhy are anti-racism forces silent on anti-Semitism? Trump's contempt for advice and consent The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Biden VP possible next week; Meadows says relief talks 'miles apart' MORE and Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoConservatives blast Supreme Court ruling: Roberts 'abandoned his oath' Supreme Court again rejects church challenge to virus restriction Should we judge judges by whether their decisions appeal to us? MORE in dissenting.

In 2016, the Supreme Court struck down a similar Texas law 5-3, with former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy siding with liberal justices and Roberts in dissenting.

But Kennedy has since retired, and two conservative justices have taken seats at the court. 

Abortion rights groups say the Supreme Court should follow the precedent it set when it struck down the Texas law.

The court's ruling stated that requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges placed an "undue" burden on women seeking abortions. 

"Three years ago, the Supreme Court decided that laws like this one in Louisiana had no purpose other than to make abortion more difficult to access," said Planned Parenthood acting President Alexis McGill Johnson. 

"There’s only one reason the court would not strike down the Louisiana law and that is because Justice Kennedy, who voted to protect abortion access just three years ago, has been replaced with Justice Kavanaugh."

Despite the Supreme Court's 2016 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the Louisiana law last year in a 2-to-1 vote, ruling it “does not impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women.”

Opponents of the law argued it would force most of the state's abortion clinics to close.

Updated at 12:05 pm.