House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law

House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law
© ANNA GASSOT/AFP/Getty Images

A majority of House and Senate Democrats are calling on the Supreme Court to block a Louisiana abortion law.

The court is set to hear oral arguments in March challenging the law, which 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.

A group of 161 House Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Justices won't fast-track ObamaCare case before election | New virus spreads from China to US | Collins challenger picks up Planned Parenthood endorsement Why Senate Republicans should eagerly call witnesses to testify Trump health chief: 'Not a need' for ObamaCare replacement plan right now MORE (Calif.), and 36 Senate Democrats, including Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocratic senator blasts 'draconian' press restrictions during impeachment trial Feds seek 25-year sentence for Coast Guard officer accused of targeting lawmakers, justices Clinton: McConnell's rules like 'head juror colluding with the defendant to cover up a crime' MORE (N.Y.), filed an amicus brief in support of the law’s challengers, June Medical Services.

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It will be the first abortion case taken up by the Supreme Court since President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Collins breaks with GOP on attempt to change impeachment rules resolution Roberts admonishes House managers, Trump lawyers after heated exchange MORE's two nominees — Justices Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchJanuary reminds us why courts matter — and the dangers of 'Trump judges' Planned Parenthood launches M campaign to back Democrats in 2020 Appeals court appears wary of letting Trump reinstate death sentences MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughHow Citizens United altered America's political landscape Overnight Health Care: Justices won't fast-track ObamaCare case before election | New virus spreads from China to US | Collins challenger picks up Planned Parenthood endorsement Progressive group targets Collins over vote for Kavanaugh in new digital ad campaign MORE — were confirmed to the bench.

According to the lawmakers, admitting privilege requirements “serve no medical benefit, while imposing undue burdens on access to abortion through increased costs and reduced availability of care. These burdens cause unnecessary delays and impose health risks to women.”

The brief notes that the Supreme Court in 2016 struck down an almost identical law in Texas because it resulted in the closure of half of the state’s abortion clinics, which would place an “undue burden” on women seeking a legal abortion.

If the Louisiana law goes into effect, only one clinic and one abortion provider would remain in the state.

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 2-1 vote, ruling it “does not impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women.”

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Proponents of the law, including Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyHow Citizens United altered America's political landscape Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Biden calls for revoking key online legal protection MORE (R-Mo.), who filed his own amicus brief, argue the Court should maintain the law because it does not represent a burden for all women in the state, only some. 

Lawmakers said the case still represents a direct challenge to the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade, even though Louisiana and its supporters have not asked the Court to formally overturn Roe. 

The Democrats said upholding Louisiana’s law would allow states to effectively eliminate abortion.

“As with other statutes targeting abortion providers and facilities, the actual legislative intent here is to mandate requirements so difficult to fulfill that the inevitable outcome is the shuttering of abortion clinics and elimination of safe and legal abortions,” the Democrats wrote.