The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to take up an abortion case this term, adding an explosive issue to an already robust docket of controversial issues in the middle of the 2020 presidential election.
The justices will consider a Louisiana law that requires doctors to obtain admitting privileges from a nearby hospital.
This is the first abortion case that will be argued since Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch joined the bench, solidifying a conservative majority.
While the case does not directly challenge Roe v Wade, supporters of abortion rights are fearful that this is the first of what could be a growing number of opportunities for the new conservative majority to chip away at abortion rights.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, representing an abortion clinic and two Louisiana physicians, argues that if the law is allowed to go into effect is will leave “only one doctor to care for every woman seeking an abortion in the state.”
Louisiana argues that the law is necessary to provide a higher level of physician competence. The law, which has been on hold pending appeal, says doctors must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where the abortion is performed. It is nearly identical to a Texas law that the Supreme Court struck in 2016. Back then, Justice Anthony Kennedy joined with the liberal justices to rule against the law. Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito were in dissent.
Since that ruling, however, the composition of the Court has changed with the addition of President Donald Trump’s nominees Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
The court will likely hear oral arguments early next year.