Roberts Votes w/ Liberals as Supreme Court Blocks La. Abortion Limits

Law would require doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a hospital less than 30 miles away…

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John Roberts/IMAGE: C-SPAN via YouTube

(AFP) The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a Louisiana law that critics say would limit access to abortion in the southern state.

The decision was made by a narrow majority — 5 votes to 4 — with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court’s liberal justices to block the legislation, which would have taken effect Friday.

It was considered a test for the high court, swung to the right under President Donald Trump.

The law would require doctors at Louisiana’s abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a hospital less than 30 miles away.

According to pro-choice advocates, that is too restrictive — leaving only one doctor able to perform the procedure in the whole state.

But the state of Louisiana argued that due to risks of complications, it was vital to be able to transfer patients to neighboring hospitals.

That convinced an appeals court, which after years of hearings, allowed the law to finally come into force this week.

But those challenging it filed an emergency brief in the Supreme Court asking for it to block the law as they sought an appeal.

They argued that even if they were to win later, the impact of the law coming into effect would be irreversible and closed clinics would not be able to reopen.

“Louisiana legislators on both sides of the aisle enacted this law to protect women from the abortion lobby which repeatedly puts profit over health and safety standards, and has proven incapable of policing itself,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. “The Court should not prevent state legislators from doing the job they were elected by their constituents to do.”

The law was backed by conservative judges Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — both picked by President Donald Trump.

Two years ago, Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold the law in Texas. But with his vote on Thursday, he brought new balance to the court.

© Agence France-Presse. Liberty Headlines editor Paul Chesser contributed.