29 JUNE 2020 -- Abortion providers need not have hospital admitting privileges that would ensure women’s safety during or after the procedure, according to today’s ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States in the closely-watched June Medical v. Russo case.
Instead, the Court determined that the Lousiana law at the heart of the case, Act 620 (“The Unsafe Abortion Act”) is unconsitutional. The 5-4 decision was weighted by Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the liberals of the court. As the first abortion-specific case to be heard by both Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, it was one which observers believed could signify whether the Court could potentially be willing to reconsider Roe V. Wade.
Although the case drew much national interest, in speaking to how it impacts Massachusetts, MCFL Executive Director, Patricia Stewart, Esq., said,”The Court's decision will have minimal impact in Massachusetts. The Department of Public Health has already removed the requirement for abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges when servicing patients insured by MassHealth, and Massachusetts case law rejects the requirement for abortions to be performed in a hospital, thus, eliminating the need for abortionists to obtain admitting privileges."
Stewart continued, saying, "In finding the Louisiana law unconstitutional, the Supreme Court guts the abortion safety net, threatening the life and health of women who feel compelled to seek abortion, by denying them the protection of a medical standard of practice that has been shown to avoid lifelong medical complications and save lives in an emergency."
MCFL President Myrna Maloney Flynn said, “Requiring abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges is simply a way to ensure women's safety. Sadly, Chief Justice Roberts and four other justices today maintained that abortion clinics do not have to meet the same standards as other surgical providers. True ‘abortion care’ and ‘women's health’ -- terms often utilized by abortion rights supporters -- should prioritize a woman's best interests.”
Throughout the court session, pro-life adovcates held a strong presence outside, holding signs like that of a woman who came from San Francisco to demonstrate in favor of both women’s safety and a baby’s right to life. “Health regulations do not equal undue burden,” read her poster, referencing the fact that the Lousiana act had required physicians performing abortions to have hospital privileges.
A decision in favor of Louisiana’s Act 620 would simply have been common sense, protecting women’s health from poor standards of care and ensuring a consistent application of safety measures to all surgical procedures in the state.
Massachusetts Citizens for Life, founded in 1973 by women such as Dr. Mildred Jefferson, remains the Bay State’s singly-dedicated human rights organization focused on pro-life activism.