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 PelosiBiden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Manchin: Biden told moderates to pitch price tag for reconciliation bill On The Money — Democrats rush to finish off infrastructure MORE (Calif.), and 36 Senate Democrats, including Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Progressives push for fossil subsidy repeal in spending bill Louisiana delegation split over debt hike bill with disaster aid 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 TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE's two nominees — Justices Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchSupreme Court low on political standing Graham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet President Biden's vaccination plan is constitutional — and necessary MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGraham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet Republicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally Senators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh 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 HawleySchumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks Dems punch back over GOP holdup of Biden SBA nominee DHS chief 'horrified' by images at border 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.