SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced joining a multistate coalition of 22 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court supporting a constitutional challenge to a Louisiana law that makes it nearly impossible for women to access safe, legal abortion services. In June Medical Services v. Gee, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether a Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to maintain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic violates women’s constitutional rights. In the brief, the attorneys general argue that, consistent with the Supreme Court’s own decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Louisiana law causes an undue burden on women’s access to healthcare and must be struck down.
"This law is yet another attempt to trample on women's reproductive rights," said Attorney General Becerra. "This law creates barriers for licensed medical providers to perform abortion services, and unlawfully jeopardizes women’s access to care. We will continue to fight against laws that harm women’s health and restrict their rights.”
In the brief, the attorneys general argue that the Louisiana admitting-privileges requirement at issue in this case, also known as Act 620, was modeled after and is nearly identical to a Texas statute that was struck down by the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In Whole Woman’s Health, the Court found that these admitting-privileges requirements imposed an undue burden on women’s constitutional right to access abortion services, failed to advance the State’s purported interest in women’s health, and resulted in devastating burdens on access to care. Louisiana’s admitting-privileges requirement, like the Texas law on which it was based, harms women’s health by reducing access to safe and legal abortions. Louisiana’s admitting-privileges requirement would result in more severe restrictions than those identified in Whole Woman’s Health. If allowed to take effect, Act 620 would leave a single physician to serve the 10,000 women who annually obtain legal, pre-viability abortions in Louisiana. Under the law, there would no longer be any providers in the state able to provide legal pre-viability abortions after 16 weeks of pregnancy.
The coalition argues that limiting or eliminating women’s access to safe and legal abortion leads to worse health and socioeconomic outcomes. The brief describes the different ways that states promote women’s health without impeding women’s rights upheld by the constitution.
The filing of this brief is Attorney General Becerra’s latest effort in the fight to protect women’s reproductive rights. On April 12, 2019, Attorney General Becerra led a coalition of 22 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit filed by Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Mississippi, arguing that state laws cannot prohibit a woman from exercising her rights ensured by Roe v. Wade. On March 4, 2019, Attorney General Becerra filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rule that places restrictions on Title X, the nation’s family planning program. The rule restricts access to preventive healthcare and prohibits referrals for abortion. In addition, Attorney General Becerra is leading the legal defense of the Affordable Care Act in Texas v. U.S. to protect affordable healthcare coverage for millions of Americans.
In filing today’s brief, Attorney General Becerra joined a coalition led by New York and the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the brief can be found here.