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Supreme Court Directs Louisiana from Enforcing New Regulations on Abortion Clinics

The justices could decide this spring whether to add the case to their calendar for the term that begins in October.

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The sun flares in the camera lens as it rises behind the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, June 25, 2017. VOA

A divided Supreme Court stopped Louisiana from enforcing new regulations on abortion clinics in a test of the conservative court’s views on abortion rights.

The justices said by a 5-4 vote late Thursday that they will not allow the state to put into effect a law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in putting a hold on the law, pending a full review of the case.

President Donald Trump’s two Supreme Court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were among the four conservative members of the court who would have allowed the law to take effect.

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If the doctors succeed, they can continue performing abortions, he said. If they fail, they could return to court, Kavanaugh said. Pixabay

Kavanaugh wrote a dissenting opinion in which he said the court’s action was premature because the state had made clear it would allow abortion providers an additional 45 days to obtain admitting privileges before it started enforcing the law.

If the doctors succeed, they can continue performing abortions, he said. If they fail, they could return to court, Kavanaugh said.

The law is very similar to a Texas measure the justices struck down three years ago. Roberts dissented in that case.

But the composition of the court has changed since then, with Kavanaugh replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted to strike down the Texas law. Trump had pledged during the campaign to appoint “pro-life” justices, and abortion opponents are hoping the more conservative bench will be more open to upholding abortion restrictions.

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A divided Supreme Court stopped Louisiana from enforcing new regulations on abortion clinics in a test of the conservative court’s views on abortion rights. Pixabay

Louisiana abortion providers and a district judge who initially heard the case said one or maybe two of the state’s three abortion clinics would have to close under the new law. There would be at most two doctors who could meet its requirements, they said.

But the federal appeals court in New Orleans rejected those claims, doubting that any clinics would have to close and saying the doctors had not tried hard enough to establish relationships with local hospitals.

In January, the full appeals court voted 9-6 not to get involved in the case, setting up the Supreme Court appeal.

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The law had been scheduled to take effect Monday, but Justice Samuel Alito delayed the effective date at least through Thursday to give the justices more time. He and Justice Clarence Thomas were the other dissenters Thursday.

The justices could decide this spring whether to add the case to their calendar for the term that begins in October.

The case is June Medical Services v. Gee. (VOA)

Next Story

Madras HC: Rape Victims Should Not be Unnecessarily Compelled to “Knock Doors of Court” for Abortion

"The victim girl should not be unnecessarily forced to move court for abortion"

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The victim then moved the high court, which directed her to get admitted to a government hospital to get medically assessed for abortion. Pixabay

The Madras High Court has said that rape victims should not be unnecessarily compelled to “knock doors of the court” to terminate their unwanted pregnancy.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh, in his order delivered June 19, ruled that if a victim suffers an unwanted pregnancy and its duration has not exceed 20 weeks, then the “victim need not be referred to the medical board and the termination of pregnancy can be done as per the provisions of Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971.

“The victim girl should not be unnecessarily made to knock the doors of this court.” If the pregnancy has not breached the 20 weeks mark, then the length of the pregnancy is irrelevant, and instead the life of the pregnant woman shall be prioritized, the court said.

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Madras high court. Wikimedia Commons

For isolated cases, where the length of pregnancy has exceeded 20 weeks, the medical practitioner shall take immediate steps in accordance with the MTP Act to save the pregnant woman’s life, it said. The victim, in this case, was blackmailed into having sexual intercourse and had got pregnant. Eight weeks into the pregnancy, after being denied any relief from government hospital, she moved the court.

The police informed the court that victim had requested assistance in terminating the pregnancy during the registration of the rape case. However, police apparently refused to help her, and then she pooled her resources to get admission in a private hospital, but was discharged without undergoing abortion.

The victim then moved the high court, which directed her to get admitted to a government hospital to get medically assessed for abortion. The victim had, on June 8, consulted a doctor at the government-run Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children and General Hospital here. The doctor found her eight weeks pregnant but instead of terminating the pregnancy, referred her to another government hospital.

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“The victim girl should not be unnecessarily made to knock the doors of this court.” VOA

On June 12, the high court gave strict instructions to admit her at a government hospital and carry out the necessary medical procedure. On June 17, the doctors aborted the pregnancy. On June 19, the matter came up for further hearing before the court, which remarked that the hospitals wrongly interpreted the provisions of the MTP Act, and made the victim run from pillar to post.

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Lashing at the government and doctors, the court said: “In cases of this nature, the doctors and the courts need to be more sensitive and should act fast since the victim girl is carrying a foetus, which keeps reminding her of the agony faced by her due to rape and every moment she suffers mental agony and depression due to the unwanted pregnancy that has been forced against her.”

As the victim’s counsel requested the court to issue guidelines to ease the abortion process for rape victims, the court said that medical boards have already been constituted across the country to address request of similar nature. (IANS)