Supreme Court Hands Victory to Abortion Rights Advocates

WASHINGTON — A surprising victory for abortion rights advocates from an ever liberal-leaning U.S. The Supreme Court that ruled Monday that Louisiana’s tough restriction on abortion violates the Constitution.

The 5-4 decision in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the court’s liberal justices struck down a law passed by Louisiana’s legislature in 2014 that required any doctor offering abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Its enforcement had been blocked by a protracted legal battle.

Critics argued that the law could have forced all but one of the state’s abortion providers to shut down operations. It was similar to a Texas law that the high court struck down in 2016.

Two Louisiana doctors and a medical clinic sued to get the law overturned. They said it would leave only one doctor at a single clinic to provide services for nearly 10,000 women who seek abortions in the state each year.

Louisiana defended the law, arguing that the requirement to have an association with a nearby hospital would provide a check on a doctor’s credentials. But opponents said a hospital’s decision about whether to grant admitting privileges had little to do with a doctor’s competence and more to do with whether the doctor would admit a sufficient number of patients.

Abortion in the U.S. has been legal since the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe versus Wade decision in 1973.