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 TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage MORE's two nominees — Justices Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchSupreme Court can prove its independence — or its partisan capture Harris says Trump should be in 'timeout' from appointing a Supreme Court justice Supreme Court grapples with LGBTQ rights in the workplace MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSupreme Court can prove its independence — or its partisan capture Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Planned Parenthood plans M campaign for 2020 | Dem candidates embrace aggressive step on drug prices | Officials propose changes to encourage 'value-based' care Bans on public coverage for abortion are unjustified by science and outright harmful 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 ThomasOvernight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases Appeals court blocks Ohio Down syndrome abortion ban Supreme Court can prove its independence — or its partisan capture MORE and Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoSupreme Court abortion case poses major test for Trump picks Supreme Court to hear Louisiana abortion case Overnight Defense: Esper sworn in as Pentagon chief | Confirmed in 90-8 vote | Takes helm as Trump juggles foreign policy challenges | Senators meet with woman accusing defense nominee of sexual assault 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.