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 TrumpChasten Buttigieg: 'I've been dealing with the likes of Rush Limbaugh my entire life' Lawmakers paint different pictures of Trump's 'opportunity zone' program We must not turn our heads from the effects of traumatic brain injuries MORE's two nominees — Justices Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchNikki Haley hires Heritage Action chief to run her policy group First, we'll neuter all the judges Warren, Biden call for law to protect abortion rights MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughNikki Haley hires Heritage Action chief to run her policy group Susan Collins in statistical tie with Democratic challenger: poll A disgraced Senate and president have no business confirming judges 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 ThomasClarence Thomas breaks his silence in theaters nationwide First, we'll neuter all the judges Supreme Court allows Trump administration to move forward with 'public charge' rule MORE and Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoMitch McConnell is terrible but John Roberts is actually the worst Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses On The Trail: Why 2020 is the most important election in our lifetime 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.