Major pro-abortion win as US Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana restrictions

29 June 2020, 15:47 | Updated: 29 June 2020, 17:43

The US Supreme Court has defended abortion rights in Louisiana in the first ruling on the procedure since two Trump appointees joined the court.

The major ruling struck down a state law that would have required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

It marked the second time in four years that the court ruled against the abortion law after it was voted down in Texas in 2016.

Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joined four liberal justices who reaffirmed their 2016 decision that the limits have no medical benefits and place an impermissible "undue burden" on a woman's ability to end a pregnancy.

President Donald Trump's administration supported Louisiana in the case and joined anti-abortion advocates in hoping the Supreme Court would permit abortion restrictions like those being pursued in other conservative states.

The 5-4 vote was a victory for Shreveport-based abortion provider Hope Medical Group for Women in its challenge to the 2014 law.

Roberts dissented in the Texas case but voted with the liberals in the Louisiana case based on the court's tradition of adhering to its precedents, he said.

"I joined the dissent in Whole Woman's Health and continue to believe that the case was wrongly decided. The question today however is not whether Whole Woman's Health was right or wrong, but whether to adhere to it in deciding the present case," he said.

Several similar cases in other states are heading toward justices that could lead to reversed abortion access.

Two of Louisiana's three abortion clinics would have been forced to close if the law passed, according to medical lawyers.

:: Listen to Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Mr Trump promised in the 2016 presidential race to appoint justices who would overturn a landmark nationwide legalisation of abortion.

The Louisiana case marked the first major abortion dispute heard by the court since Trump appointed Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Neil Gorsuch in 2017 as justices.

Both ruled in favour of abortion restrictions.

Abortion remains a divisive issue in the US. Christian conservatives - an important political constituency for Trump - strongly oppose it.

The Republican president, who years earlier had supported abortion rights, attended an anti-abortion march in January and declared: "Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House."