The Supreme Court announced Friday it will hear an abortion case this coming term, its first since the retirement of swing justice Anthony Kennedy, which solidified the court’s conservative majority and raised the possibility that it could overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
The case, June Medical Services v. Gee, concerns a Louisiana law passed in 2014 that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, which reproductive rights advocates argue is an effort to further restrict abortion access.
The court struck down a similar law in Texas in 2016, when it heard the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The justices ruled 5 to 3, with Kennedy joining the liberal justices in the majority. (The court had only eight members at the time due to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and Senate Republicans’ obstruction of President Barack Obama’s nominee.)
Since then, President Donald Trump appointed conservative justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, increasing the possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 abortion rights decision — or at least chipping away at it through individual cases. That has long been a goal of conservative activists. A wave of GOP-led state legislatures have enacted abortion restrictions in recent years, often through imposing onerous requirements for abortion providers.
The Louisiana law was struck down in 2017, with a federal judge ruling that mandating abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at hospitals was unconstitutional and “would increase the risk of harm to women’s health by dramatically reducing the availability of safe abortion in Louisiana.”
But last year, a federal appeals court disagreed, upholding the law. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked it again, pending a full review of the case.