#MyRightMyDecision: Join Us at the Supreme Court to Rally for Abortion Access

Image by Lorrie Shaull / Creative Commons
By Corinne Ahrens
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ACTION ALERT:

Rally with us tomorrow, Wednesday, March 4, from 8AM–11:30AM at the
U.S. Supreme Court to protect #MyRightMyDecision and abortion access!

Tomorrow the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments for June Medical Services v. Russo and will decide whether Louisiana’s admitting privileges law (Act 620) is unconstitutional based on the precedent set forth a mere four years ago in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Act 620 requires physicians who provide abortion care within the state of Louisiana to also have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. In 2016, an identical Texas law was struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, establishing a precedent that laws regarding admitting privileges are unconstitutional due to the fact that they shut down clinics without providing patients with any additional health or safety benefits.

Abortion care is a right, but this right is useless if it is not made accessible. The Louisiana law being argued tomorrow would deprive individuals of their ability to make independent health care decisions and impact their ability to access proper abortion care and services. Kathy Spillar, executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation, noted in a piece for Ms. that “when lawmakers in Louisiana and other states like Mississippi, Kansas, and Oklahoma pass laws requiring hospital admitting privileges, they know doctors will be denied—and clinics will close. These laws put women’s lives at risk and disproportionately impact women of color and poor women. This is especially cruel in a state like Louisiana that already has the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation.”

Hospitals are able to deny admitting privileges to doctors who provide abortion care for any reason, including ideological opposition, fear of backlash, or because patients rarely ever need to be admitted for follow-up care. If the Supreme Court allows Act 620 to go into effect, it would close all but one Louisiana abortion clinic, leaving an individual doctor responsible for the care of nearly one million individuals of reproductive age in the state. Except–if he’s the only one left, then there will be no providers: “Dr. Doe 3 testified that his fear of being the sole target of anti-abortion extremists in northern Louisiana would create an intolerable safety risk for him and his family and force him to stop providing abortion care to women in the state, leaving Louisiana without a single abortion provider.”

In an op-ed published in The Hill today, Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Toni Van Pelt, President of the National Organization for Women, note the other dangerous realities that continue to loom over those seeking safe abortions and those trying to provide them. “Nearly one in four abortion providers experienced severe violence and threats of violence in 2018, and 52 percent experienced targeted intimidation and threats, according to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s nationwide survey of U.S. abortion clinics.” The Feminist Majority Foundation, along with the National Organization for Women Foundation, Southern Poverty Law Center and Women’s Law Project filed an amicus brief to call attention to the aspect of anti-abortion violence that has been glossed over in this case.

Across the country, anti-abortion politicians are trying to legislate abortion care out of existence and Louisiana politicians are openly defying Supreme Court precedent in creating laws designed to harm abortion access. There is no medical rationale for this law, or similar laws, as it was created purely with politics as the motivation, and if the Supreme Court allows this law to stand, it will become impossible for patients to access in-clinic abortion care in Louisiana.

By Corinne Ahrens

Corinne is the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Spring 2020 Communications Intern from West Chester, Pennsylvania. She is Sophomore at American University in Washington, D.C. studying Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as well as Political Science with a specialization in Gender, Race, and Politics.

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