On March 4th, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in June Medical v. Russo, an abortion rights case between abortion providers and the state of Louisiana.
Here’s what you need to know:
- June v. Russo is identical to Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a Texas case that was heard by the court in 2016. Both of these cases involve the question of requiring that abortion providers have admitting privileges to hospitals. It sounds like a good idea, but in actuality, it’s another abortion restriction that limits access, closes clinics, and stigmatizes abortion providers and those seeking abortion care. In Whole Woman, the Court ruled that requiring admitting privileges placed an undue burden on abortion providers and on patients, so it didn’t take.
- The case has resurfaced because the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state of Louisiana actually needs abortion providers to have admitting privileges, although admitting privileges have no medical benefits.
- If SCOTUS rules in favor of Louisiana, all by one abortion clinic in the state would remain open, making abortion care virtually impossible to access for low-income folks and for people of color. It could also mean that the “need” for admitting privileges will have to be assessed on a state by state basis, throwing out the 2016 ruling that once provided precedent. This would drastically alter the landscape of abortion access throughout the US, to say the least.
- Another aspect of June relates to the question of third party standing, or the right of abortion providers to sue on behalf of their clients (a practice that’s been going on since the late 70s). In June, conservative judges are seeking to essentially eliminate third party standing, which would force abortion patients to sue on their own behalf, a difficult task for someone who’s also dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. Also, if third party standing is thrown out, SCOTUS would not have to rule on June at all.
There won’t be a ruling on this case until summer, but there’s a lot you can do right now.
- Get involved. Check out the work of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the National Council of Jewish Women.
- Keep learning about the case. Listen to Boom! Lawyered, Rewire.News‘ legal podcast hosted by Imani Gandy and Jessica Mason Pieklo, and follow SisterSong, Renee Bracey Sherman, Wethe Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Action, and #MyRightMyDecision on Twitter for more information.
- Donate to an abortion fund, or, if you can’t swing the cash right now, let people know what abortion funds are and how they work. It’s Bowlathon season right now, so get some folks together (from your synagogue or minyan, perhaps?) and raise money for abortion access.
- Don’t stop talking. Many believe that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and always will be, but now that you know about June, you know that’s not the case. If conservative SCOTUS judges and the Trump administration get their way, abortion access could soon be a thing of the past.