Abortion is Back at the Supreme Court: New Analysis of June Medical Services LLC v. Russo

A new KFF brief explains June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, a challenge to a Louisiana abortion regulation that will be heard at the Supreme Court on March 4, 2020. The brief discusses the issues raised by this case and reviews the potential implications of various rulings.

The June Medical Services LLC v. Russo case is a challenge to a Louisiana law, the Louisiana Unsafe Abortion Protection Act (“Act 620”), which requires physicians who perform abortions in the state to have “active admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where the doctor provides abortions. Doctors who perform an abortion without having admitting privileges may be imprisoned or fined and the clinics that employ them can have their licenses revoked and may also be fined or face civil liability.

The law in dispute is nearly identical to the Texas admitting privileges law struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in June 2016, the last time the Court ruled on abortion. In that case, the Court ruled that the Texas admitting privileges law was unconstitutional as the burden the law placed on women’s access to abortion outweighed the benefit.

The Supreme Court will likely issue its decision in this case at the end of its term, in late June 2020. With the election only months away, and party conventions in July, this case once again puts abortion right in the middle of the political debate. While the Court’s decision is unlikely to overturn Roe v. Wade, the decision could affect the type and scope of abortion restrictions that states can enact and the availability of abortion services in Louisiana and other states with similar laws.