Supreme Court strikes down abortion restrictions

United States Supreme Court Building

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has struck down June Medical Services v Russo, a Louisiana law which required doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s four liberal justices. Roberts said he disagreed with the ruling but voted with the majority because of a legal doctrine of stare decisis which calls for following establish precedents.

Opponents of the law argue that admitting privileges are unnecessary and that it adds an extra layer of difficulty for abortion providers and reduces wren’s ability to pursue abortions.

In 2016, the Supreme Court overturned a nearly identical Texas law. For that decision, Roberts had ruled against the majority but overturned his prior ruling to go along with precedent. While the laws of the two states were similar, it has been argued that the situation of the states was different as Louisiana hospitals do not have the same admittance standards as Texas.

Roberts wrote:
“The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike. The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”

I’m not a lawyer or a jurist. I understand that precedents matter. But it’s a bad precedent. States don’t have a right to decide minimum healthcare standards for doctors who perform abortions?

Daniel Horowitz of Conservative Review points out: states regulate the standards for licensed professionals all the time – everything from lemonade stands to mowing grass – even when “an objective assessment might suggest that those same tasks could be performed by others.” But when it comes to the sacred ideals of abortion, the state is somehow powerless to regulate.

He says that a precedent can’t be changed without special circumstances.

We can’t overturn a bad decision from four years ago for a ruling which favors life, and safety, and state’s rights? Precedent matters but it’s not the end all be all.

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