The Supreme Court on Monday struck down restrictions on abortion imposed by the state of Louisiana.
The Louisiana law required abortion practitioners to have admitting privileges at a hospital no further than 30 miles from the abortion clinic. In a 5-4 ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with liberal justices to declare the law unconstitutional.
According to plaintiffs in the case, the Louisiana’s restrictions would have allowed just one doctor in the entire state to perform abortions. About 10,000 women per-year currently seek abortion procedures in the state.
Roberts and the group of liberal justices said that the Louisiana law imposed similar restrictions to those of a previous law in Texas, which the Supreme Court had struck down in 2016.
“The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike. The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law,” Roberts wrote. “Under principles of stare decisis, I agree with the plurality that the determination in Whole Woman’s Health that Texas’s law imposed a substantial obstacle requires the same determination about Louisiana’s law.”
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his dissent, “[Plaintiffs’] sole claim before this Court is that Louisiana’s law violates the purported substantive due process right of a woman to abort her unborn child. But they concede that this right does not belong to them, and they seek to vindicate no private rights of their own.” The justice added, “Our abortion precedents are grievously wrong and should be overruled.”