STATEMENT: The Supreme Court Rejects Attempt To Undermine Abortion Rights in June Medical Services v. Russo

Washington, D.C. — Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in June Medical Services v. Russo, striking down Louisiana’s unconstitutional admitting privileges law and rightly upholding the precedent the court set just four years ago in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The court again found that admitting privileges are unnecessary and infringe upon the constitutional right to access abortion. Jamille Fields Allsbrook, director of women’s health and rights with the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:

The court’s decision today is an important win for the rule of law and the fight for racial and gender justice. This is a victory for people of Louisiana, especially for Black and brown people who are harmed most by these restrictive laws. But we must continue the fight and block every attempt to undermine abortion rights.

Abortion is essential, time-sensitive health care. Every person should be able to make decisions about their health and families, including the decision to have an abortion, without political interference. Yet anti-abortion lawmakers have worked for decades to legislate access to abortion out of existence and make the promise of Roe v. Wade inaccessible to everyone. The Louisiana law was just one piece of this effort, which is also seen in state and federal politicians exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to restrict access to abortion care, placing people’s health and lives even more at risk.

The right to abortion is meaningless if people cannot access affordable, compassionate abortion care. Restrictions on access, such as Louisiana’s law, disproportionately affect people of color—especially Black women—as well as low-income people, LGBTQ people, immigrants, young people, people with disabilities, and people in rural areas. In particular, racial justice and reproductive justice are inextricably linked. Laws that restrict access to abortion care disproportionately affect Black women’s ability to make decisions about their lives and their families, while their health and lives are simultaneously threatened by structural racism in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, police brutality, and more.

Reliance on the courts and precedent alone is not enough; state and federal legislation is also necessary to prevent attacks on abortion care and proactively improve access. It is time for Congress to act and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would block abortion bans and medically unnecessary restrictive laws, such as Louisiana’s admitting privileges requirement, in order to ensure that access to abortion care is a reality for all.

Background and the potential implications in the case are outlined in the report “June Medical Services v. Russo: The Potential Impact on Abortion, Civil, and Human Rights,” found here. Reproductive health and rights leaders discussed the implications of this case during the CAP event “Reproductive Rights, the Trump Administration, and the Supreme Court.”

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