How a SCOTUS Ruling in a Louisiana Case Affects Texas' Abortion Law

Mar 8, 2016

The U.S. Supreme Court is blocking a Louisiana law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Friday’s decision came just days after the court heard oral arguments regarding a similar Texas law. And the ruling points to the larger ramifications of an expected ruling on the Texas case before the court.

UT Law professor John Robertson says the court’s decision is not totally surprising. He says justices are just making sure no law similar to the Texas abortion law in question will be in effect before a ruling on whether the Texas law is unconstitutional.

“They issued the stay so that the Louisiana case will be decided on the same terms as they decide the Texas case.”

This ruling is a tidy reminder that the Texas ruling will have a direct effect on states outside of Texas. Robertson says the court could decide not to rule on Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstadt. If that happens, the case would be re-heard in a lower court. Either way, he says, the admitting privilege requirements won’t be on the books in either state while all this plays out.

“The stay in Louisiana will stay in effect until that court goes through its process and its findings are eventually appealed or upheld.”

And attorney Blake Rocap, former legislative counsel for NARAL in Texas, says this recent decision might be good news for groups opposing the Texas abortion law.

“I think that the court sticking to its guns and saying that it has five votes to stay the law in Louisiana, like it did in Texas law, is a fairly good sign for the providers in Texas who are seeking to overturn the Texas law,” Rocap says.

Proponents of the Texas law say it’s necessary to protect the health and safety of women receiving abortions. The court is also weighing a Texas law that requires abortion clinics to be more like surgical centers in hospitals. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case this summer.