The US Supreme Court decided to review the June Medical Services case, which involves the constitutionality of Louisiana’s law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. In 2016, the Court invalidated a similar Texas law in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In September 2018, in June Medical Services, the Fifth Circuit distinguished Whole Woman’s Health and upheld Louisiana’s admitting privileges law. On February 7, 2019, the US Supreme Court stayed the Fifth Circuit’s ruling. The grant of the stay was by a 5-4 vote.
Supporters of abortion rights were hoping that the Court would summarily reverse the Fifth Circuit but the Court has now decided to hear oral arguments in the case. The decision to hear the case sets the stage for what could be a major ruling. The Court could of course decide to overrule Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Most observers anticipate though that the Court will uphold the Louisiana law in a narrow ruling. The Court might overrule its 2016 decision in Whole Woman’s Health or simply distinguish the Louisiana case on its facts, which is what the Fifth Circuit did. Either approach would afford states more of an opportunity to restrict abortion.