A majority of House and Senate Democrats are calling on the Supreme Court to block a Louisiana abortion law.
The court is set to hear oral arguments in March challenging the law, which would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, a requirement that critics say is designed to force abortion clinics to close.
A group of 161 House Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), and 36 Senate Democrats, including Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), filed an amicus brief in support of the law’s challengers, June Medical Services.
According to the lawmakers, admitting privilege requirements “serve no medical benefit, while imposing undue burdens on access to abortion through increased costs and reduced availability of care. These burdens cause unnecessary delays and impose health risks to women.”
The brief notes that the Supreme Court in 2016 struck down an almost identical law in Texas because it resulted in the closure of half of the state’s abortion clinics, which would place an “undue burden” on women seeking a legal abortion.
If the Louisiana law goes into effect, only one clinic and one abortion provider would remain in the state.
Despite the Supreme Court’s 2016 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the Louisiana law last year in a 2-1 vote, ruling it “does not impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women.”
Proponents of the law, including Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who filed his own amicus brief, argue the Court should maintain the law because it does not represent a burden for all women in the state, only some.
Lawmakers said the case still represents a direct challenge to the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade, even though Louisiana and its supporters have not asked the Court to formally overturn Roe.
The Democrats said upholding Louisiana’s law would allow states to effectively eliminate abortion.
“As with other statutes targeting abortion providers and facilities, the actual legislative intent here is to mandate requirements so difficult to fulfill that the inevitable outcome is the shuttering of abortion clinics and elimination of safe and legal abortions,” the Democrats wrote.