The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana anti-abortion law on Monday, with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the decisive vote.
The law would have left Louisiana with only a single clinic and one doctor to provide abortions.
The rejected law’s supporters contend that abortion is a dangerous, risky procedure, even though “it has a lower rate of hospitalizations than a wisdom tooth removal,” the New York Times reported.
Monday’s ruling confirmed that the law would have violated the constitutional right to abortion first upheld in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.
“The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. voting with the court’s four-member liberal wing but not adopting its reasoning,” the Times says. “The chief justice said respect for precedent compelled him to vote with the majority.”
That precedent was established in 2016, when the court rejected a Texas statute nearly identical to the Louisiana law.
Both laws sought to severely restrict access to abortion by banning physicians from performing abortions unless they had admitting privileges at a local hospital.
“Many abortion providers cannot easily obtain hospital admitting privileges, doctors have explained, because of the excessive paperwork required and because of resistance from hospitals that don’t want to appear as though they’re taking sides on the issue,” says the Huffington Post.
Opponents of the Louisiana law argued that it had little to do with a pregnant woman’s health and safety, as supporters claimed.
“Hospitalization after an abortion is rare, all sides agree, and the lack of admitting privileges by the doctor who performed the procedure is not a bar to the woman getting needed medical care,” says the Washington Post.
Beyond its obvious significance to women in Louisiana, the decision was the court’s first on abortion rights during the Trump presidency, and thus a blow to Trump’s attempt to shift the high court to the right politically. Both of the conservative men Trump has appointed to the court voted against Monday’s ruling.
“The Department of Justice had argued [in 2016] that the Texas law should be struck down,” notes the Washington Post. “But, under Trump, the department reversed its position … and backed Louisiana.”