Justice, Sex & Gender

Abortion access is in danger right now: Here’s what you should know and what you can do

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. 

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