The U.S. Supreme Court has made headlines after preventing a controversial law from being passed in the state of Louisiana. The Louisiana law threatened to limit women’s access to safe abortion procedures by mandating doctors to obtain admission privileges to operate in local hospitals. These are privileges that doctors have observed are incredibly difficult to access. However, in the Supreme Court ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts determined the outcome in a 5-4 vote to rule against the Louisiana state concluding that the law was unconstitutional. After a series of laws have been passed with the attempt to outlaw abortions in the U.S., this is a historical decision that creates a landmark precedent.
According to the justices, the decision was based on the belief that the law would put an “undue burden on women”. In the words of Justice Stephen Breyer, “The evidence also shows that opposition to abortion played a significant role in some hospitals’ decisions to deny admitting privileges.” In other words, it appeared that the desire to limit access to abortions were being motivated and decided by individual moral beliefs. Justice Roberts, who carried out the tie-breaker decision, explained his view that “The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike.”
The court ruling on Louisiana is significant because it reinforces the decision made in a similar case in Texas in 2016. With its decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has strengthened the legal precedence that will protect women’s rights to safe abortions across the country. In the last few years, this is the second time that women’s rights to safe abortions have been successfully protected. A decision that restores faith in the justice system to respect human rights regardless of ideology and personal beliefs. The court has made a compassionate decision by enabling women and families to abort pregnancies they may not be able to afford or even want. The Louisiana law would have crippled this ability and disproportionately affected those that may need to access those services the most. A low-income family, for example, would be unable to travel to a major city where one of the few doctors performing abortions is located. As a result, they would be left unfairly to support themselves and that of their child without adequate financial and life support. The decision has demonstrated that the rule of precedence takes priority; disregarding personal ideologies, it has followed the rulings of previous cases. This has reaffirmed the integrity expected in a well-functioning democracy and its judicial processes.
Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Louisiana law has established a strong and indisputable precedent. This will play a significant role in protecting the rights of women to safe abortions in the future of U.S. law. While this decision has been a monumental one, the war between conservative ideology and abortion (or other human rights for that matter), in the U.S. is far from over. This battle has been won without any casualties, but this will not be the case every time. In the present, we should rejoice and celebrate but avoid becoming complacent as there are many more challenges to follow.