The question the Supreme Court will be asked to rule on on Monday is a simple one: Can a state impose medically unnecessary restrictions on abortions without interfering with the abortion doctors’ ability to provide services?
The Texas law was challenged in federal court and upheld by a federal appeals court, but the Supreme Court had already agreed to hear the case because it also tackled the issue of what constitutes “medically unnecessary” restrictions.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law imposed “more extensive administrative hurdles and regulations” on abortion providers than the doctors could meet, making the laws impermissible. The state, in response, said the law was constitutional as long as it did not prevent physicians from doing their job, and the Supreme Court agreed to consider that issue.
The court agreed to take the case before it had heard the abortion-related evidence and arguments from the attorneys on both sides, so there was little public indication that the justices were leaning one way or the other.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, speaking for a majority on the court, said the lower court’s ruling was “unfortunate,” but he added that the statute, by including an exception for the medical reasons, should not be blocked by the justices.
Whatever Justice Kennedy decides, the law is still likely to be struck down because the state has not shown how the regulations could be found constitutionally.
The case is Lauren v. New Hampshire, 15-312.