Colorado abortion rights advocates are celebrating a huge win at the U.S. Supreme Court today in a case that could have dramatically altered the landscape of abortion access across the United States and chipped away at Roe v. Wade.
Today, the court released its long-awaited decision in the June Medical Services v. Russo case, striking down a Louisiana law that required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Abortion foes claim that this is intended as a safety measure, despite the fact that complications from abortion are incredibly rare, and admitting privileges are difficult to obtain, making this requirement highly effective at shuttering abortion clinics.
The case revisited the precedent set in 2016 in the strikingly similar Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that a Texas law similar to the one in question in Louisiana that caused widespread clinic closures across the state constituted an “undue burden” on the constitutional right to an abortion.
Despite the fact that the court now leans conservative after President Trump appointed two conservative justices, the court chose not to buck precedent and chip away at Roe v. Wade as abortion rights advocates feared, thanks to conservative-leaning Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the court’s more liberal justices.
“This is a critical win for patients across this country,” said Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) CEO Vicki Cowart in a press release. “In a time of fast-paced, long-overdue change, the last thing we needed was to put additional obstacles in the way of health care access. Today, the Supreme Court’s decision confirms what we’ve always known: reproductive health care is health care, and health care is a human right.”
“At PPRM, we recognize rights are only words unless they are coupled with access,” Cowart continued. “We will continue to work every day to provide the highest quality care, no matter what. PPRM is committed to remaining a safe haven for abortion care access to all who need us, whether from our local communities, neighboring states, or those who must travel untold distances to access the health care which is their human right.”
“Abortion is essential, time-sensitive health care, and when someone decides to seek abortion services it should be affordable, accessible, and compassionate care,” said Karen Middleton, executive director of Cobalt (formerly NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado) in a press release. “For decades, legislators have been working overtime to destroy access to abortion, state by state, law by law. The Louisiana law is one part in a nationwide, coordinated effort to overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion inaccessible to everyone.”
Middleton said this is also true of a Colorado measure, on the November ballot, that seeks to ban abortion at 22 weeks in the state, potentially leaving just six other states without gestational cutoffs for abortion.
“Cases like June Medical Services v. Russo illustrate the importance of having access to abortion without limits or cutoffs,” Middleton elaborated. “Louisiana is one of the most restrictive states in terms of abortion laws and there are just three abortion clinics in the state. Laws like admitting privileges, waiting periods, and mandatory counseling are designed to push care out of reach and will force people to seek abortion care later in pregnancy. Colorado must remain a place where people can seek abortion care when the patient’s home state has failed them.”