In a 5-4 decision in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined liberal justices, the U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a Louisiana law that required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

This would have left Louisiana with one abortion provider.


Courts had held there was no demonstrable medical reason for the restriction.

Roberts joined the decision based on precedent but didn’t join the reasoning of the other four justices.


Arkansas has a similar law and it was enjoined by District Judge Kristine Baker. The state appealed her injunction, but the case was dropped by plaintiffs in 2019 after the state’s two abortion providers — one which provides abortions only by drugs and the other with medical abortions — made arrangements with doctors with admitting privileges.

There was fear of a loss in Arkansas at the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative and anti-abortion in the country. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has made the same spurious argument that admitting privileges, even for a pharmaceutical abortion done by taking a pill, were health measures. Medical experts have testified that wasn’t so. The law is part of a national effort to pass sufficient restrictions to effectively outlaw abortion.


Rutledge issued a statement later noting she had fought with other Republicans to end abortion in Louisiana and her statement took heart from the closeness of the decision and Roberts’ concurrence only on account of precedent in a similar earlier case. She continued her dishonest spin that the fight to end abortion is about women’s “health and welfare.” Because if you oppose forcing a woman to take an unwanted to pregnancy to term — even with a severaly damaged fetus or potential harm to the mother — how can you say you are concerned about women’s welfare?

The Trump campaign issued similar nonsense and vowed that he’d continue to appoint judges, such as two who took part in the dissent today, who will uphold his effort to end abortion rights.

From the winning side, an organization that serves Arkansas:

Statement from Brandon Hill, PhD, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains

“Let this sink in: the Supreme Court held today — for a second time — that targeted abortion laws standing in the way of health care are unconstitutional. We’re celebrating this win for patients, of course, but the fact that we’re even fighting these laws — ones that, again, the highest court in the country says are virtually absent of any health benefit — is mind-blowing.

Across the four states we serve, politicians have focused for years on similar methods to block care under the guise of patient safety. Today’s ruling is a rallying cry for change: patients deserve better than smoke and mirrors. They deserved better in Texas in 2016 in the Whole Women’s Health case. They deserve better in Louisiana in June Medical Services. And they deserve better in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Abortion care is health care, and Planned Parenthood is here to provide and expand care — no matter what.”