Washington, DC — Today, Americans United for Life filed a “friend of the court” brief on behalf of 207 Members of Congress in June Medical Services, LLC v. Gee and Gee v. June Medical Services, LLC in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Court should uphold a Louisiana law mandating that abortion practitioners are competent and equipped to facilitate life-saving emergency transfers for patients as necessary.
The bicameral, bipartisan brief is led by Senator John Kennedy (Louisiana) and Senator Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee) in the Senate and Rep. Steve Scalise (LA-01) and Rep. Michael Johnson (LA-04) in the House of Representatives. The 39 Senators and 168 Members of the House of Representatives who signed onto this brief represent 38 states.
The case arose after June Medical Services, a Louisiana abortion business, challenged Louisiana’s law, requiring those who perform abortions to be competent to facilitate emergency transfers for patients (known as “admitting privileges”) in the event of life-threatening complications at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where abortions are conducted.
However, though several states have emergency transfer laws currently in effect, the Supreme Court found a similar Texas law unconstitutional in 2016. However in that case, Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Court refused to invalidate such patient protection laws generally, leading to confusion among lawmakers as to what type of health and safety regulations might withstand constitutional scrutiny under Hellerstedt.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals distinguished the facts and impact of the two laws and ruled in favor of Louisiana’s law, finding that it did not create an “undue burden” to purchasing an abortion in Louisiana. June Medical Services then appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Louisiana also filed a cross-petition challenging the ability of an abortion business, June Medical Services, to seek the invalidation of health and safety regulations meant to protect Louisiana citizens from the very abortionists challenging the law (third-party standing doctrine). On March 4, 2020, the Supreme Court will hear both challenges, and it will be the first time the Court addresses a direct abortion case since Hellerstedt in 2016.
This brief urges the Court to provide clarity regarding the overly subjective “balancing” test created in Hellerstedt so that Congress and state legislatures might understand which laws will withstand constitutional scrutiny. It argues that June Medical Services lacks standing to invalidate health and safety regulations on behalf of its prospective patients, but that even if June Medical Services does have standing, Louisiana’s law withstands the Hellerstedt test and should be upheld. It concludes by respectfully suggesting the Court reconsider those precedents upon which Hellerstedt is built based on the unworkability of this line of cases.
“Women and girls deserve emergency care when life-threatening complications arise from an abortion gone wrong,” said Catherine Glenn Foster, President & CEO of Americans United for Life. “Whether due to an abortion or a broken foot, patients deserve the continuity of care that Louisiana-style emergency transfer laws ensure.”
“This case raises critical health and safety issues, and I am thrilled to see so many Members of Congress take a serious interest in the health and safety of their constituents,” said Katie Glenn, Government Affairs Counsel at Americans United for Life. “There is an inherent conflict of interest between abortion businesses and patients when they try to invalidate health and safety regulations intended to provide necessary medical care for these very patients. Post-Hellerstedt, lawmakers have very little guidance about which laws will be upheld or struck down because such decisions are based on the subjective determinations of a single federal judge.”
The Louisiana abortion law at the center of this U.S. Supreme Court case is consistent with AUL’s model legislation on the issue, and AUL is proud to have had a role in seeing it passed and successfully defended in court.
Americans United for Life (AUL) is a nonprofit, public-interest law and policy organization that holds the distinction of being the first national pro-life organization in America—incorporated in 1971. It protects and defends human life from conception to natural death through vigorous legislative, judicial, and educational efforts.
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