The US Supreme Court has ruled that a law restricting abortions in Louisiana is unconstitutional in a landmark decision.
The law required that doctors providing abortions have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals, which the justices said led to an undue burden on women.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined liberal justices in the 5-4 decision in a blow to anti-abortion groups.
The court struck down a similar policy in Texas in 2016, the opinion noted.
This is the first major abortion case ruling from the Supreme Court during the Trump presidency.
The 2014 Louisiana law said that physicians must hold privileges at hospitals within 30 miles (48km) of their practice – which the state argued was to protect women’s health.
But critics said the controversial law would limit the number of providers in the state, violating a woman’s right to an abortion.
What was the case about?
In June Medical Services vs Russo, the Supreme Court ruled on whether the 5th circuit appeals court’s decision to uphold a Louisiana law requiring physicians who perform abortions to have hospital privileges went against a prior top court precedent.
The law specifically mandated admitting privileges at a hospital “not further than 30 miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced”.
While the state said the requirement was to protect women’s health, advocates said that it’s incredibly rare for women to face complications from an abortion. They also pointed out that many hospitals in the region are religiously-affiliated or conservative and don’t allow abortions to take place in their facilities, which severely limits the number of physicians who can carry out the procedure.
This then, in turn, constitutes an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to seek an abortion. But the appeals court determined no clinics would “likely be forced to close” because of the law, and allowed it to stand.
The case raised another issue as well. The state claimed that abortion clinics and providers can’t file such a lawsuit as there is a conflict of interest and women can do so on their own.