By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator

News that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments regarding Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act that would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital was greeted warmly by the state’s pro-life leaders.

The decision, which was announced Oct. 4,  came on the heels of the Court’s decision in February granting a Shreveport abortion facility an emergency stay request after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had upheld the law in the fall of 2018.

“It was welcomed news to learn that the Supreme Court will hear the admitting privileges case,” said Danielle Van Haute, respect life coordinator for the Diocese of Baton Rouge. “I am hopeful that we are one step closer to finally enacting this common-sense law.”

She said requiring admitting privileges for abortion providers is an attempt to raise the required standards for abortion facilities to bring them more in line with outpatient surgical facilities.

“If an abortion provider is unable to obtain admitting privileges, the bigger question is ‘why? ” she added.

 Also under consideration by the Court in accepting Gee v. June Medical Service is the legal issue of whether abortion providers can claim to represent their patients in a challenge to a law, despite the fact no patient or pregnant woman has challenged the law.

“The United States Supreme Court chose wisely to consider a very valuable Louisiana law regarding admitting privileges of those performing abortions within our state,” said Rob Tasman, director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The LCCB supported this legislation as it passed through the Legislature overwhelmingly and was signed by former Governor (Bobby) Jindal, as it is a genuine issue of women’s health unlike the way in which advocates for abortion refer to ‘women’s health.’ 

“In this way, advocating for such measures within our law should neither be controversial nor adversarial, if we are to truly keep the life of the woman and the unborn child at the forefront of the conversation.  We remain hopeful that the United States Supreme Court will treat this case both fairly and justly such that the inherent dignity and value of life is honored and revered.”

Citing a similar Texas law that was struck down three years ago, pro-choice proponents claim the Court should have struck down the Louisiana law without any oral arguments. However, two of President Donald Trump’s Court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were not on the Court in 2016  when in a 5-3 decision the Texas admitting privileges law was ruled unconstitutional.

“Abortion facilities should not be provided loopholes when it comes to health and safety standards that apply across the board to outpatient surgical facilities,” said Benjamin Clapper, executive director for Louisiana Right to Life. “We are also pleased that the Supreme Court has accepted Louisiana’s challenge on third-party standing. Substandard physicians and for-profit providers unable to meet health requirements should not be able to hide behind their supposed patients when making legal claims against a law.”

Rep. Katrina Jackson of Monroe, who authored the bill in 2014, said the state Legislature passed the law to protect the health and safety of women and encouraged the Supreme Court to do the same.

“Abortion has known medical risks, and the women of this state who are often coerced into abortion deserve to have the same standard of care required for other surgical procedures,” Jackson said.