When one OB-GYN heard news of the Supreme Court’s decision Monday on Louisiana’s controversial abortion law she felt like it was a personal triumph.
“I know how many restrictions already exist in Louisiana and how difficult it was for me to obtain an abortion,” said JC, 31, who asked to use a pseudonym to protect her privacy.
She woke up to text messages and emails celebrating the ruling that she says will preserve access in the state.
“It’s important to take a moment and realize that it’s finally a win for Louisiana women,” she added.
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal justices on Monday striking down in a 5-4 decision the Louisiana law that required providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.
JC, who now provides abortion services in Washington state, received abortion care in Louisiana seven years ago when she was a first-year medical student. After navigating access in the state, JC said she is relieved that pregnant women in Louisiana have one less barrier to worry about when seeking care.
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“For every woman an abortion is extremely personal decision,” she said. “It should be something that is left up to the woman and her doctor, and should not be legislated by people who have no idea what she’s going through.”
Abortion rights backers, who argued that the law reduces access without benefiting the patients’ health or safety, praised the ruling.
“This is a victory for the people of Louisiana and the rule of law, but this case never should have gotten this far,” said Nancy Northup, president & CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Kathaleen Pittman, clinic administrator at Hope Medical Group for Women and a plaintiff in the case, said that excitement is in air at the clinic in Shreveport, La.
“The law struck down today is just one in a sea of others that are intended to prevent us from serving our patients,” said Pittman.
“As we celebrate today’s Supreme Court decision, do not mistake our celebration for acceptance of the status quo,” said Steffani Bangel, executive director at the New Orleans Abortion Fund. “Because the truth is: anti-abortion politicians have eroded the legal right to abortion for decades, and while the right remains, access to abortion is scarcer than ever.”
Supporters of the law are still defending the admitting privileges requirement.
“The Supreme Court has issued a tragic decision that continues its practice of putting the interests of for-profit abortion businesses ahead of the health and safety of women,” said Louisiana state Sen. Katrina Jackson.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry in a statement added, “It is deeply disappointing that the Chief Justice continues a pattern of inconsistent and groundless decisions.”
While the ruling is a win for abortion rights advocates, some say that the fight for reproductive access isn’t over.
Pearl Ricks, executive director at The Reproductive Justice Action Collective, said that multiple abortion restrictions need to be repealed in Louisiana.
“There are plenty of things that can be done to make abortion far more accessible in Black and low income communities, and for people who are undocumented,” said Ricks. “I refuse to spend today pretending like those barriers don’t exist.”
Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, agreed and hopes that states soon follow the lead of Virginia, which is set to roll back many long standing abortion laws in the state on July 1.
Miller added “I was really proud that the work my staff and our clinics did in Texas could bring this kind of relief to people right next door in Louisiana.”
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