This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear June Medical Services v. Gee, a case stemming from a Louisiana law passed in 2014 that requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles. This law threatens access in Louisiana in meaningful and impactful ways: if the Court upholds the law and it goes into effect, all but one abortion clinic in Louisiana will close.
We want to be clear: abortion is still legal in Louisiana, and the three clinics that currently serve our state remain open for now.
However, the potential harm and impact to NOAF’s clients are dire. If the Supreme Court decides in favor of anti-choice politicians in Louisiana, clinic closures will mean that only one Louisiana city will have abortion services, and people seeking abortion will need to bear undue burdens to access healthcare. We have already seen the impact of such laws restricting access in our state. In 2011 there were 7 clinics in Louisiana, and in 2019 we are down to 3. This means that our clients must drive longer distances to clinics, and they must bear additional costs of missed wages, childcare, and even hotel rooms. Nearly 10,000 women seek abortion care in Louisiana each year. If this law is upheld, there will be only one physician left in the state to care for all of them.
“The Supreme Court and the trial court in Louisiana found that abortion is safe and admitting privileges have virtually no health or safety benefit. While we are pleased that the Court is reviewing the case, our concern is for the women of Louisiana. This case is identical to Whole Women’s Health, the Texas case the Court has already ruled on,” says Sylvia Cochran, Board President for Women’s Health Care Center and Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge. “Louisiana is openly defying the Court’s 2016 ruling. Even though today’s announcement is a reprieve for Louisiana women, our hope is that the Court will uphold precedent and ensure the abortion rights of women in our state.”
As we’ve seen with all unnecessary restrictions on abortion access in Louisiana, the impact of this law will harm marginalized communities the most. At the New Orleans Abortion Fund, we hear daily the voices of those clients who will be most impacted--Louisianians who are low-income and living in poverty, people of color, minors, rural people, individuals who are homeless or housing-insecure, and people who have been abused or assaulted. The harm that this law will cause to our community can not be overstated; with only one clinic in Louisiana, people will suffer.
If this law is allowed to stand, anti-abortion politicians will be emboldened to pass more restrictions--closing clinics and harming women across the country. Abortion is a deeply personal decision that should be made without politicians interfering.
“Louisiana lawmakers modeled their law on Texas’s law, after recognizing its success in closing clinics there. If the admitting privileges law is enforced, it will force Louisianans seeking abortion services back into dangerous, desperate situations, reviving the public health crisis that existed before Roe v. Wade,” says Amy Irvin, Executive Director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund. “The Supreme Court’s integrity is at stake. We count on the Court to uphold the rule of law, to protect our constitutional rights, and to be independent of partisan politics. Nearly one million women in Louisiana are of reproductive age. They need more healthcare, not political posturing.”
We need your support to continue funding abortions and fighting for people’s right to control their bodies and destinies. Please join us in standing against these threats to healthcare and personal liberty by donating to NOAF today.