WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice John Roberts sided with his liberal colleagues on Monday to strike down a Louisiana law requiring abortionists to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital in the event that a mother is injured in the process of having her unborn baby killed. Roberts, nominated to the court by then-President George W. Bush, opined that the rule “imposes an undue burden on access to abortion.” Many Christians believe that they must vote Republican in order to put “conservative” justices on the bench.
Roberts joined Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to be the deciding factor in the 5-4 decision. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.
“The law would reduce the number of clinics from three to ‘one, or at most two,’ and the number of physicians providing abortions from five to ‘one, or at most two,’ and ‘therefore cripple women’s ability to have an abortion in Louisiana,'” Roberts wrote in a separate opinion.
“The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons,” he said, referring to the 2016 ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. “Therefore, Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”
Roberts had dissented in the 2016 ruling, but noted in Monday’s opinion, “I joined the dissent in Whole Woman’s Health and continue to believe that the case was wrongly decided. The question today, however, is not whether Whole Woman’s Health was right or wrong, but whether to adhere to it in deciding the present case.”
Louisiana Act Number 620 required abortionists to “have active admitting privileges at a hospital that is located not further than thirty miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced and that provides obstetrical or gynecological health care services.”
Admitting privileges are defined as being “a member in good standing of the medical staff of a hospital that is currently licensed by the Department [of Health and Hospitals], with the ability to admit a patient and to provide diagnostic and surgical services to such patient.”
Justice Breyer wrote the main opinion for the court, similarly stating, “Some hospitals expressly bar anyone with privileges from performing abortions. Others are unwilling to extend privileges to abortion providers as a matter of discretion. … Still other hospitals have requirements that abortion providers cannot satisfy because of the hostility they face in Louisiana.”
And with fewer abortion facilities due to the inability to meet the admission privileges requirement, “it would still leave thousands of Louisiana women with no practical means of obtaining a safe, legal abortion, and it would not meaningfully address the health risks associated with crowding and delay for those able to secure an appointment with one of the state’s two remaining providers.”
Breyer and the majority consequently agreed with a lower court ruling that “Louisiana’s law poses a ‘substantial obstacle’ to women seeking an abortion; its determination that the law offers no significant health-related benefits; and its determination that the law consequently imposes an ‘undue burden’ on a woman’s constitutional right to choose to have an abortion.”
As previously reported, Roberts also joined the liberal justices of the court to uphold Obamacare in 2012, disappointing a number of conservatives who thought he would save the country from the requirements in the Affordable Care Act. He recently sided with his liberal colleagues to reject a challenge to California’s limits on church attendance during the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2005, during a discussion about the separation of church and state with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Roberts, a Roman Catholic, explained, “[M]y faith and my religious beliefs do not play a role in judging. When it comes to judging, I look to the law books and always have. I don’t look to the Bible or any other religious source.”
2 Chronicles 19:6 reads, “Take heed what ye do, for ye judge not for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment.”
Psalm 2:10-12 exhorts, “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings. Be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.”
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